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Updated: 18 min 55 sec ago

Bowdoin Opens Academic Year with 213th Convocation

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:04

The College’s annual Convocation ceremony, marking the official opening of the 213th academic year, was held Wednesday, Sept. 3, in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall. In his “Opening of the College” address President Barry Mills reflected on what makes Bowdoin so unique and so beloved by many of its students, alumni and parents. He also touched on some of the challenges ahead for the College.

Dean of Student Affairs Timothy Foster, in his address “Voices from the Past,” recounted a story about two Bowdoin students who, in the early 1960s, arranged an exchange with Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.

Professor of Psychology Sam Putnam delivered the Convocation Address. An expert in social development, Putnam spoke on the subject of nature versus nurture and what, ultimately, is responsible for shaping us. Read the complete story and the full remarks of Mills, Foster and Putnam.

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On Ice Buckets, Charitable Giving and Engaging the Human Heart (Harvard Business Review)

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:02

Ice cubes and water splashes on white background

The ubiquitous Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $100 million for the ALS Association — astounding, especially when you consider that donations for the same period last year amounted to less than $3 million.

Dan Pallotta, an expert in non-profit section innovation, writes that, “Zero-cost fundraising ideas that spring up from out of nowhere and require virtually no investment are not sustainable because they rarely happen, and relying on them won’t result in the world we truly seek,” adding, “Ice melts. The big play here is a wholesale re-education of how the American public thinks about charity.” Read more in the Harvard Business Review.

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How We Talk About Pain (Times Literary Supplement)

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:00

CapsulesPain is hard to pinpoint, both its location in the body and also what it actually feels like. In her new book, The Story of Pain: From Prayers to Painkillers, historian Joanna Burke examines how people have coped with pain from the 18the century to present day.

“When sufferers speak of their pain, [Bourke] notes, they often come up with striking metaphors, a richly textured if allusive language which circles around a phenomenon that in its very nature seems hard to pin down,” writes Andrew Scull in his review of Bourke’s book

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Watch Bowdoin’s 213th Convocation Live Online

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 13:55

Bowdoin College’s 213th Convocation will be held Wednesday, September 3, at 3:30 p.m. in Pickard Theater.

The official opening of the College includes remarks from President Barry Mills and address from Professor of Psychology Samuel P. Putnam titled, “The Nature of the Nuture of Nature.” Watch the live feed of Convocation below at 3:30 p.m.

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In the Books: A Bowdoin Rite of Passage

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 13:45


This week, President Barry Mills has been inviting small groups of first-year students into his office to personally meet each one, give a quick lesson in Bowdoin history, and guide the new students to the college’s matriculation book to sign in.

Bowdoin contains five of these matriculation books, which are filled chronologically with thousands of student signatures. In the early 19th century, a college official beautifully recorded the names of matriculants one by one. Then in 1841, the pen was handed over to students to personally mark their place in Bowdoin history. While the practice of signing matriculation books stopped in 1852, it resumed in 1872. Again abandoned in 1902, the custom was revived by President Sills in 1937 and has carried on unbroken to the present.

Click through the slideshow to see a few photos of the matriculation of the class of 2018, as well as some signatures by Bowdoin’s notable alumni written when they were 18-year-old incoming first-years.

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Claire Varian-Ramos ’00 on Pollution’s Effect on Bird Song (New York Times)

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 13:45

Isolated Bird On A Stump

Research by ornithologist Claire Varian-Ramos ’99, who has been examining bird song distortion created by pollution, is included in Andrew Revkin’s New York Times piece, “Winged Warning: Heavy Metal Song Distortion.”

“The fathers of those birds also ate the food tainted with mercury, since they were in the cage together,” writes Revkin. “As a result, Ramos couldn’t tell if the babies were bad at learning, or if they were actually learning perfectly but the song they were learning was already garbled by their mercury-poisoned fathers.”


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Bowdoin’s Lichter Garners Sewall Foundation Grant for Fisheries Research

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 13:44

john-lichter-2013Bowdoin received a major grant from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation to support the Maine fisheries research of John Lichter, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies and Director of the College’s Environmental Studies Program.

The $83,700 award will allow Lichter and co-investigator Eileen Johnson to determine whether Atlantic cod and other predatory groundfish in the Gulf of Maine are responding to recent restoration of key prey species – such as alewife – in the Kennebec River. These findings will inform other conservation projects in the state.

“We suspect that restoration of major alewife and blueback herring runs in the Kennebec system will lead to growing populations of nearshore groundfish like cod,” Lichter said. “If so, we will better understand the underlying ecology of Maine’s coastal ecosystems and how to restore and better steward these natural resources.”

Read the full story.

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Why Meryl Streep Simply Cannot Be Bothered (Ioadicaeu’s Blog)

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 13:44
 Ioadicaeu's Blog

Meryl Streep. Image: Ioadicaeu’s Blog


This little gem from Meryl Streep has been making the rounds on social media; in case you’ve not seen it, in a quote posted on Ioadicaeu’s Blog, the multiple Oscar-winning actress muses about the inconsequential things in life for which she no longer has patience. Read it here.

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A Bowdoin Tradition: A Presidential Welcome on the Museum Steps

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:23

Every year, once first-year students have returned to campus from their orientation trips, they gather at the Museum of Art steps for a welcome from some of Bowdoin’s administrators. They also sing the alma mater together. This spot on the Quad is symbolic, for in four years, the students will gather once again in front of the Museum to walk up its stairs and receive their degrees. Dean of First-Year Students Janet Lohmann introduced the two speakers, Dean of Admissions Scott Meiklejohn and President of Bowdoin College Barry Mills.

“I always think of today a little like gift giving,” Meiklejohn told the class. “All of us in admissions have put together a really nice gift for the rest of Bowdoin college. And the college is about to take the bow off and open the box and find out how cool you are. …I’m excited about the impact you’re going to have on this place and the pathways you will take.” Read more, and see the slideshow.

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Research Connects Music Listening to Creativity (Smithsonian)

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:23

musiciansWhen researchers scanned the brains of young adults as they listened to music, the scientists discovered changes in brain activity that correlated with introspection, self-awareness, mind-wandering and, “possibly,” imagination, Smithsonian magazine reports.

The music “enhanced connections between different regions of the brain, a pattern called the default mode network (DMN),” the article explains. This network tends to be focused on inner-thoughts. When it is active, another network that is more involved in goal-oriented tasks quiets. Because people with autism often have problems with DMN activity, the study’s authors suggest that they may be receptive to music therapy.

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Evan Ecklund ’16 Gets a Taste of Finance

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:23
 Trustee Kathleen Kimiko Phillips '99 and Evan Ecklund '16.

Trustee Kathleen Kimiko Phillips ’99 and Evan Ecklund ’16.


Evan Ecklund ’16, a government and legal studies major and economics minor from Falmouth, Maine, spent the summer in Manhattan as an intern at Berens Capital Management, of which College Trustee Kathleen Kimiko Phillips ’99 is president and COO. Ecklund and Phillips served up heaping helpings of Bowdoin spirit during a cooking class held by their firm.

“I was able to meet people from all around the world with different perspectives on any number of financial markets, companies or geopolitical issues,” says Ecklund. “My time was focused largely on learning about the alternative investment industry and building a foundation of professional experience.” 


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Infographic: Vacation Time Around the World (Good)

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:23
Time off info

Click image to view in its entirety. Infographic detail: Good.

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Bowdoin Economist: New Football Playoff Lacks Suspense (Boston Globe)

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:15
Daniel Stone

Daniel Stone

Boston Globe columnist Kevin Lewis mentions the research of Assistant Professor of Economics Dan Stone in a recent round-up of surprising insights from the social sciences.

In his Ideas column, Lewis refers to a paper that Stone co-wrote on “how to make football suspenseful.” Stone and his collaborator, Jarrod Olson, use mathematical analysis to argue that college football’s new four-team, two-round championship, which replaces the single-game championship, will “cut down on narrative drama,” Lewis writes.

“The authors note that a large playoff with many teams reduces the suspense of regular-season games by making the outcome of each regular-season game less critical. Meanwhile, the gain in total playoff-game suspense is not enough to make up for the loss of total regular-season suspense.”

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Post-College Job: Cleaning the Oceans

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:15

hannah-tennentUp to 15 million tons of trash slips into our oceans every year, endangering the marine mammals, fish, seabirds and sea turtles that may eat the rubbish, get entangled in it or be affected by endocrine disruptors.

Although scientists are skeptical about the feasibility of cleaning up the ocean’s gigantic floating garbage patches, a small Maine organization is attempting to rid the seas of trash. Instead of tackling the ocean’s far-off gyres of rubbish, however, Rozalia Project is trying to prevent trash from entering the ocean in the first place. Most marine debris moves into the marine environment from beaches, harbors and tidal rivers.

This summer, a Bowdoin alumna joined the Rozalia Project, sailing with the organization on its 60-foot boat, American Promise. Hannah Tennent graduated from Bowdoin in May with an earth and oceanographic science major. With free time before starting a 10-month post in September with the Student Conservation Association, Tennent took a temporary position with the ocean-cleaning nonprofit. Read the full story. 

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Grace Butler ’16 Pushes Bicycle Coalition Forward

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:14

This summer, junior Grace Butler received a Psi Upsilon Environmental Fellowship from Bowdoin to intern with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an advocacy organization based in Portland. Butler, a sociology and environmental studies major, took on the task of completing an economic benefit analysis of bicycling in Maine. She surveyed the businesses that support the bicycle economy here to assess how much money bicyclists contribute to the state.

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How Photography Provides Release for Those With Mental Disorders (NYTimes)

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 12:13
Abandoned, by Danielle Hark

Abandoned by Danielle Hark

Living with anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder or other mental disorders can make it an uphill battle to stay present and engaged. Danielle Hark found no release from debilitating depression until the day she began snapping photos with her iPhone. “It doesn’t matter how the photos come out,” she says, “it’s a mindfulness process that brings me into my body. I’m not worrying about the past or the future, just looking through the lens.” She turned her experience into the Broken Light Collective, which allows people to come together and articulate their state of mental health through images. Read more from the New York Times.

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Bowdoin Deans Offer Top 10 Tips for First-Years (WCSH 207)

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:12

On the Maine TV show 207, Janet Lohmann and Michael Wood, dean and assistant dean of first-year students at Bowdoin, give their best tips for students and parents on adjusting to the first year of college.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 09.22.19

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Tapping Liberal Arts Training in the Business World (Harvard Business Review)

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:10

Innovation creativity imagination
They’re trained to solve complex problems. Navigate ambiguity. Innovate. Communicate. These are some of the reasons why liberal arts graduates are sought after by the biggest consulting firms, and why other employers should target them too, says Harvard Business Review. 

Read more about why hiring from the humanities is the way to go for CEOs worldwide.

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Claudia Villar-Leeman ’15 Studies the Future of Forests

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:05

Claudia Villar-Leeman with her mentor, Ahmed A.H.Siddig, a PhD candidate at UMass

Claudia Villar-Leeman lived in the woods for 11 weeks this summer to investigate the “chaotic” changes that a bug the size of a dot is wreaking on East Coast forests.

The biology major won a National Science Foundation fellowship to work with scientists who are looking into the decline of eastern hemlock trees. In 18 states, the conifers are being wiped out by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect from Asia.

First accidentally introduced to the United States in the 1950s — possibly by someone importing an ornamental hemlock from Japan — the pest is at this point unstoppable. “Hemlocks are doomed,” Villar-Leeman said. “I am not sure if they will go extinct, but the bug is uncontrollable and scientists are studying how the forests will change after the die-off.”

With 22 undergraduates (selected from an applicant pool of over 700), as well as graduate students and seasoned scientists, Villar-Leeman worked in the Harvard Forest, the university’s 107-year-old, 3,750-acre ecological research area in Western Massachusetts. Read the full story.

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Where Did the Black-and-White Cookie Come From? (Eater)

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 13:04

Black and White Cookies with a Cup Of CoffeeThis pastry, associated with New York City and its numerous delis, is more of a flat cake than a cookie – which may have to do with the Dutch word koekje (pronounced “cookie”), meaning little cake. The Dutch settled on the East Coast in the 17th and 18th centuries, a time during which other cake-like cookies – such as the madeleine – were also making an appearance.

The cookie’s fondant topping, split down the middle in flavor and color, is said to represent the half-moon, a medieval symbol that draws a connection with New York’s European past.

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