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Posted on Jan 20, 2011

Rebecca Cortez, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has co-authored papers with colleagues at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Northern Illinois University and the University of Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. “Local transport properties, morphology, and microstructure of ZnO decorated SiO2 nanoparticles,” was published in the journal Nanotechnology, and “Investigation of the drain current shift in ZnO thin film transistors” was published in the Journal of Applied Physics. The atomic force microscopy research completed at Union College for these efforts was supported by a National Science Foundation grant. Additional support for the ZnO thin film transistor characterization was provided by Union’s Faculty Research Fund.

Research Professor of Philosophy Raymond Martin will be an interviewed panelist in the New York Academy of Sciences’ six-part interdisciplinary series, “Perspectives on the Self: Conversations on Identity and Consciousness.” Joining him on the panel are historian Gerald Izenberg and sociologist Nobert Wiley. This session, titled “Me, Myself, and I: The Rise of the Modern Self,” will be held in New York City Jan. 27. In addition, Martin’s review essay, “Let Many Flowers Bloom,” on historian Allan Megill’s “Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: A Contemporary Guide to Practice,” appeared in a recent issue of the journal History and Theory.

Michael Vineyard
, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, gave a talk titled “Rutherford Back-Scattering Experiment in the First-Year Seminar at Union College” at the 2011 winter meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Jacksonville, Fla. The meeting celebrated 100 years of nuclear physics that began with the discovery of the atomic nucleus in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford. Scott LaBrake, senior lecturer and accelerator manager, was co-author of the paper.

“Morning in Tunisia,” an article by Michele Angrist, associate professor of political science, appears in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, which is published by the Council on Foreign Relations.To read the article, about the recent uprising in Tunisia, click here. Angrist is editor of “Politics and Society in the Contemporary Middle East” and co-editor of “Authoritarianism in the Middle East Regimes and Resistance.”

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Four to compete for coveted Watson Fellowship

Posted on Jan 19, 2011

Film, food, dance and recycling are among the topics four Union seniors would explore if chosen for a coveted Watson Fellowship.

Their proposals to pursue their specific passions across the globe will go up against others from around the country in the prestigious competition, designed to send exceptional students on a journey of self-discovery and personal challenge.

Watson nominees: From left are Timothy Connelly, Aria Walfrand, Rebecca Wentworth and Samuel Merlin.

“The Watson Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for our students and a great privilege for us,” said visual arts professor David Ogawa, chair of Union’s Watson Fellowship Committee. “It makes it possible for students to spend a year exploring the passions they have developed here at Union.”

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program offers a one-year grant to graduating college seniors “of unusual promise” to study independently outside the United States. The stipend for individual award winners is $25,000.

Union’s Watson committee also includes Maggie Tongue, director of Postgraduate Fellowships, and professors Charles Batson (Modern Languages and Literatures), Seyffie Maleki (Physics), and Elizabeth Garland (Anthropology), a former Watson Fellow.

Union’s most recent Watson winners include Frederick Franke ’10, who researched the intimate connection between food and culture; James Morton ’10, who combined his love of photography and the sea by photographing the shipping industry; and Andrew Krauss ’08, who explored “Evolution in Outrigger Canoeing.”

In addition, Noah Eber-Schmid ’06 investigated the punk music culture in Europe and Scandinavia; Adam Grode ’05 studied long-necked lutes in Central Asia; and Nori Lupfer ’03 photographed circuses in motion on several continents.

Here are the four members of the Class of 2011 who were nominated by the Union committee, with a brief description of their projects:  


Hometown: Schenectady, N.Y.

Major: English

Minor: Mathematics

Activities: General manager, WRUC; Orientation Committee member; Ozone Cafe volunteer

Project: “Both Sides of the Screen: Finding My Filmic Voice through World Cinema”

Description: Connelly proposes a global study of the language of film at various foreign film festivals, including the Avignon Film Festival in France; Flickerfest in Sydney, Australia; Reel Earth in Palmerston North, New Zealand; and the Yasujiro Ozu Short Film Festival in Sassuolo, Italy. He will gain experience and an understanding of new foreign films, how to set up and run a festival, and how the movie-going experience of other countries compares with that of the United States. Connolly, who grew up as “the family cameraman,” plans to make his own documentary on the topic using techniques and styles learned during his Watson year.


Hometown: Sharon, Mass.

Major: Political science

Minor: History

Activities: Culinary House, “Building Up Ghana,” Senior Week committee

Project: “Slow Food and Subsistence Farming in the French Culinary World”

Description: With a lifelong interest in the culinary world, Merlin has observed restaurant food and food production from different perspectives. While working at numerous restaurants, including a four-star French bistro near his home, he was exposed to ingredients imported from around the world. He got involved with locally farmed ingredients and began thinking about slow food practices and the future of food. Over the years, he gained experience working with varied cuisines in Boston, Chicago, Romania, Italy and Israel. If awarded a Watson, he would use his French culinary training and language skills to travel throughout France and its former colonies, including Morocco, Vietnam and French Polynesia, to observe the slow food movement and subsistence farming. He would work on farms, visit markets and work in restaurants that practice slow food values.


Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.

Majors: Psychology, Spanish

Activities: Co-captain of Bhangra Union, head Fox Hall residence advisor, Minerva Council student representative for Green House, Philanthropy chair for Alpha Delta Lambda sorority

Project: “Discovering the Roots of Bhangra”

Description: Walfrand would like to travel to India, Malaysia, Australia and England to learn how Bhangra dancing developed and changed in each country and how it shapes personal identities. She is also interested in studying the cultural and religious significance of the dance in each country. Walfrand’s Watson year would include meeting with the president of the Punjab Cultural Society and attending the Baisakhi festival in India; learning how to play the dhol (the percussion instrument used in Bhangra) with the Platinum Dholis in Australia; and taking part in a Bhangra Showdown Competition in England.


Hometown: Monson, Maine

Major: Mechanical engineering

Minors: Math, Chinese

Activities: Crew, Engineers Without Borders, Ski Club, Chabad co-president

Project: “Trash Tramping: Investigating Innovative Recycling in the Third World”

Description: Wentworth proposes traveling to sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia; in particular, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Laos, Cambodia and India. In these countries, she would explore how people reclaim their trash, create pioneering ways of consuming it and understand the “business” of trash. She plans on living the life of a recycled material, from the exact time it is thrown away to the instant its use is complete. She would study the recycled product’s hierarchical waste stream systems by engaging with buyers of the materials.

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Ethics Bowl team gives strong showing

Posted on Jan 19, 2011

Once again Union’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl at the end of fall team. This year’s tournament was hosted by Dartmouth and featured 20 teams from 17 colleges. 

Union, the defending champion, advanced to the tournament portion of the competition, but was eliminated by Colgate in the quarterfinals on a split decision. Stevens Institute of Technology won, beating Dartmouth in the final round.

“Union did an excellent job before and during the competition. To prepare, the team drew on expert opinions from across the Union community,” said Mark Wunderlich of the Philosophy Department, the team’s advisor, noting that the competition challenges students to work through difficult moral and ethical issues.

“Our team members talked with political scientists about the status of bullfighting in Spain; with economists about global development and the economic consequences of illegal immigration; with philosophers about privacy and Facebook; and with faculty from Women’s and Gender Studies about moral and political issues connected to pregnancy.”

Seven of Union’s 10 competitors were new to the team this year. Members included: Pieter Boskin ’11 (majoring in biochemistry, philosophy and studio visual arts), Bui Duy Thanh Mai ’12 (Asian studies), Alana Curran ’14 (neuroscience), Sam Fein ’12 (political science), David Leavitt ’12 (economics), Trevor Martin ’14 (law and public policy), Melissa Moskowitz ’14 (political science), Bryn Peterson ’14 (psychology), Ryan Semerad ’13 (English and philosophy), Lea Tessitore ’12 (political science and women’s and gender studies).

The team is funded by the Internal Education Fund, Office of the Dean of Studies and Office of the Dean of Academic Departments. It is sponsored by the Philosophy Department.

Ethics Bowl cases are distributed at the beginning of the term, and teams have roughly 10 weeks to prepare for debate. Questions are not disclosed in advance, however, so students must consider many ethical dimensions of each case. The questions asked at this year's competition included:

“Is it ethical to bar pregnant athletes from competition because there is some evidence that the fetus may be harmed?”

“Is the replacement of traditional journalism – the fourth estate – with the blogosphere a good thing?”

“Is the decision of the parliament of Catalonia to ban bullfighting morally justifiable?”

“Should the United States follow Australia in making voting compulsory?”

In addition to Union, Colgate, Dartmouth and Stevens Institute of Technology, teams competed from: Bard College, Buffalo State College, Concordia University, Elmira College, Franklin Pierce University, SUNY Fredonia, Manhattan College, Marist College, Merrimack College, Moravian College, College of Notre Dame, St. John’s University, Saint Joseph College and Simon’s Rock.

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Concert series presents rising piano superstar

Posted on Jan 18, 2011

Pianist Nareh Arghamanyan

Twenty-one-year-old Nareh Arghamanyan, described by Musical America writer and fellow pianist Harris Goldsmith as a “major, major, major talent” who places audiences under the “spell of her magnificent artistry,” comes to Memorial Chapel on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. Her program includes selections by Rameau, Brahms, Rachmaninov and Liszt.

This Armenian prodigy began her studies with Alexander Gurgenov at the Tchaikovsky Music School for Talented Children at the age of eight. She is the youngest student ever to be admitted to the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna, entering in 2004.

Arghamanyan has performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Mont Blanc Symphony France and Armenian Philharmonic, with planned appearances this season from Vienna to Vancouver. Winning the Montreal International Music Competition in 2008 further confirmed her place as one of today’s finest young pianists. Arghamanyan had previously earned first place wins at the 2007 Jose Roca International Competition in Valencia and the 2005 Josef Dichler Piano Competition in Vienna.

A participant at the 2009 Marlboro Music Festival, she will return again this year. Arghamanyan is no stranger to second appearances; a debut at the San Francisco Performances last season was followed by another invitation to its Young Master Series in 2011.

The Analekta label recently released Arghamanyan’s highly praised recording of the Rachmaninov 2nd sonata and Liszt B minor sonata.

Tickets for Sunday’s performance are free to the Union community; $20 general admission; and $8 for area students. For more information, call 388-6080 or visit http://www.union.edu/ConcertSeries

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Morning in Tunisia

Posted on Jan 18, 2011

Michele Angrist, associate professor of political science, has a piece in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine about the uprising in Tunisia, "Morning in Tunisia."

Angrist is editor of "Politics and Society in the Contemporary Middle East" and co-editor of "Authoritarianism in the Middle East Regimes and Resistance."

To read the article, click here.



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Chronicle to get a makeover

Posted on Jan 13, 2011

The Chronicle has long been a staple of Union communications. Beginning in 1967 as a monthly four- to six-page newsprint tabloid for faculty, staff and alumni, this campus newsletter has taken many shapes and forms.

In 1974, with the advent of an expanded alumni magazine, the Chronicle became a news vehicle specifically for Union faculty, staff, administrators and faculty emeriti. The current online version dates to the 1995-96 academic year.

In keeping up with the times, the Chronicle is once more undergoing change. Soon, it will be an e-mail newsletter you’ll be able to read in your in-box. Simply sign-up here: http://bit.ly/iaK5Tm

“The Chronicle’s transition to a subscription format represents an effort to allow our community to decide what materials they wish to receive,” said Jill Hungsberg, senior director of Communications and Marketing. “Like any on-demand service today, this will give readers control of their subscription.”

Web Communications Director Ken George noted that in the new format, Chronicle readers will be able to forward it to others. They can also choose to receive it as a text message or on their mobile devices, and it will be easier to Tweet or post on Facebook.

The Chronicle will continue to bring you the latest news about faculty, staff and student accomplishments as well as College initiatives, special events and other key campus information every week during fall, winter and spring terms. Faculty and staff are encouraged to submit announcements of their professional activities, including publications, grants, awards and conferences. 

The Chronicle format change will take place in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

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