‘Entranced by Science’ Deepthi Thumuluri '20 won a Virginia Academy of Sciences grant to continue her research into the relationship between diet-induced obesity, exercise and the gut microbiome.
“W&L students are so fortunate to have professors who are genuinely invested in the well-being of their students and in furthering the body of knowledge in their field. I truly believe that this perspective on academia allows all of us to cultivate our own passions.”
~ Deepthi Thumuluri ’20
Deepthi Thumuluri ’20
Minor: Computer Science
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
What sparked your interest in science?
I was really lucky to grow up in a family that really valued science and believed in how important it was that we are always learning more about the world around us. Some of my earliest memories of science are my dad sitting next to me on planes and explaining how a metal box was able to fly in the air. Seven-year-old Deepthi didn’t understand Bernoulli’s principle in the slightest, but he ensured that I would always be entranced by the science of the natural world. The older I got, the more I began to question why humans are the way we are and how we got to be this way. This is why I then transitioned into exploring more about biology and the history of humanity.
How did you end up at W&L?
Full disclosure: I applied to W&L after I saw the Admissions brochure that came to my house in the mail. Something about that flier stuck out to me, and I decided to apply totally on a whim. I then came to visit after I was accepted, and that was when I decided that I wanted to be at W&L. I loved that the student body was so welcoming and friendly, and I loved that the faculty were super involved with every student that they interacted with. Fun fact: I actually met Professor Sarah Blythe when I first came to W&L. When I had to fill out my preferences for an advisor, I asked for her and I’ve stayed with her ever since.
What projects at W&L have you worked on?
I started working for Professor Gregg Whitworth as an HHMI fellow during my freshman year. At that point, his lab was working on studying a species of bacteria that seemed to play a really important role in understanding how the gut microbiomes of animals change in response to diet and estrogen. I learned all about how difficult it is to grow cells and how much of it is sheer luck. More importantly, I learned to get really comfortable with failure and accepting that a huge part of science is being dynamic and constantly willing to learn. I also learned how our lab uses molecular biology to better understand the physiology that other labs explore. This was a summer of learning how to be in a lab and understanding more about what exactly I wanted to study.
I spent my second summer also doing molecular biology, but focusing more on how different diets effected the gut microbiomes of both male and female rats. By working over 50 hours a week for the entirety of the summer, I was able to get a lot of data about the diversity of the gut microbiome. Professor Blythe helped me tie this molecular biology to the physiology and neuroscience. She and I also collaborated on designing my current project which will focus on how the gut microbiome changes in response to a restriction on diet and exercise.
Tell us about the research grant you just won.
In November, I participated in the Virginia Academy of Sciences Undergraduate Research meeting and submitted a grant proposal, which I won. My $750 grant will go toward further research on the relationship between diet-induced obesity, exercise and the gut microbiome in order to expand treatment options in the face of a nationwide obesity epidemic. The beneficial effects of exercise, specifically long-distance running, are well documented in scientific literature but are also well known to the general public. Emerging evidence has shown that there are also effects of diet-induced obesity on the diversity and health of the gut microbiome. However, little is known about the impact of swimming as an exercise regimen on gut diversity in obese animals. Swimming is a unique exercise because it is low impact, and therefore can be utilized by those who are unable to run. This study will also allow us to compare the impacts of a Western-style Diet (WSD) and a control diet on the gut microbiome via a well-established marker of gut health, the Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes ratio, and overall phyla level analysis. This study will add to the existing literature, as swimming and WSD are novel approaches to altering the gut microbiome.
As part of my professional career, I would like to work in a lab which deals with diseases that are very much current problems in society. I also would love to continue to work in a lab that bridges the space between physiology, molecular biology and computational biology. Being able to work in the same lab for two years has taught me a great deal about all of those fields and how closely they all interact. Additionally, this lab experience has taught me how to take ownership of my work and demonstrate diligence and determination to reach an end goal.
A Little More about Deepthi
Residential Advisor, Dance Marathon, Peer Tutoring Coordinator, formal secretary for Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society
Why did you choose your major?
I chose my major because I have always been really captivated by the brain and how it controls everything that we do in such a seemingly effortless way. Also, I think it’s so fascinating that we learn to do so many different things so well that they become almost second nature.
Has anyone on campus inspired you?
I am so inspired by all of the professors in the Biology Department and Neuroscience Program for being passionate educators, as well as being incredible scientists. W&L students are so fortunate to have professors who are genuinely invested in the well-being of their students and in furthering the body of knowledge in their field. I truly believe that this perspective on academia allows all of us to cultivate our own passions.
What’s your personal motto?
Those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter.
Favorite way to unwind?
Working out or quality time with my loved ones.
What one film/book do you recommend to everyone?
“The Circle” by David Eggers
A Ph.D.? I’m not entirely sure in what, but I’d love to teach at some point.
Favorite W&L memory
Midnight breakfast during finals week my first year
Male and Female Roles in Western Religious Traditions with Professor Alex Brown
‘A Big Optimist’ Lewis Perkins '93, the self-described “liberal arts kid” who received the Distinguished Alumnus Award at his 25th reunion in April, nurtured his creative spirit at W&L. Now he brings that spirit to a nonprofit that encourages sustainability.
“I was totally the liberal arts kid, and that was a reflection of the kid I was when I was growing up. I like art, theater and music. I enjoyed being creative, and now I do that with business strategy.”
~ Lewis Perkins ’93
A Mindful Career
“It was like reading the gospel,” says Lewis Perkins of the moment he learned how Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute helps companies rethink design and manufacture to make a positive impact on the environment.
Perkins joined the institute in 2012 as senior vice president and took over as president in 2015. “I thought this was the answer,” he says of that realization. “This was giving back to society. It was a whole system plan for the planet. We have known all along that everything needs to be made with mindfulness. It made sense.”
Perkins had long wanted to help companies “find their soul.” He had that epiphany after seeing how some institutions practiced philanthropy to counteract a problem they were causing. “They were saying, OK, we are creating unintentional negative impacts, but our goodwill will override that,” he says.
Cradle to Cradle boasts about 300 companies and over 6,000 product types. “We believe in investing in people and in local communities where the product is made,” Perkins says. “We are like the LEED certificate program for products. We provide the framework and train consultants to do the work.”
His work involves a great deal of creativity. “I was a high-energy, creative kid that didn’t want to sit still,” he says. Perkins cultivated that spirit at W&L. He’s a proud son of the South, born in Tallahassee, Florida. Along with his brother, John Perkins ’90, he knew about the university because of two Tallahassee alumni, Judge Robert P. Smith Jr. ’54 and his son, Todd Smith ’83. When Perkins visited John on Parents and Family Weekends, the university felt like home.
As a first-year, he took studio art and psychology. “I was always interested in human nature,” he says. “I was totally the liberal arts kid, and that was a reflection of the kid I was when I was growing up. I like art, theater and music. I enjoyed being creative, and now I do that with business strategy.”
After graduating with a B.A. in art, he became interested in philanthropy, and worked for Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and for W&L, on a capital campaign. Perkins, who holds an M.B.A. with a focus on social responsibility from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, also logged several years with Mohawk Industries as director of sustainable strategies.
‘A Big Optimist’
Today he travels the world nonstop. “I spend as much time at our office in Amsterdam as I do at our headquarters in San Francisco,” he says. “For me, it’s about being around a diverse set of people, thinking about solutions at the larger level for the planet. It’s talking about a world where all systems are connected, and there is no isolation. I love being with people who think like I do and are optimistic. I’m a big optimist.”
One of the things he loves about W&L is the broad worldview he experienced in classes and with peers and friends. “It was a like-minded community, and it’s been fun to stay in touch, to see how we have all expanded,” he says. “There was a sense of duty and honor that came from W&L. One of the reasons I got into this job was because I saw injustice. W&L instilled principles, honor and values in all of us.”
If you know a W&L alumnus who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
More about Lewis
FAVORITE PROFESSOR: The late Sidney M.B. Coulling III ’46, the S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of English Emeritus. “He was amazing. Even though he didn’t always give me a good grade on papers, he taught me how to write. Between him and Pam Hemenway Simpson, my adviser and head of the Art Department, I learned a lot.”
MEMORABLE CLASS: Chaos Theory. “I remember writing my paper on Jackson Pollock because of the random way he chose to create. That left an impression on me.”
FUN ACTIVITY: Southern Comfort, the a cappella group. “Some of my best friends were in Southern Comfort.”
W&L Announces November Community Grants The Community Grants Committee has made 16 grants totaling $30,036 to local area non-profit organizations.
Washington and Lee University’s Community Grants Committee has made 16 grants totaling $30,036 to non-profit organizations in Lexington and Rockbridge County. They are the first of the university’s two rounds of grants for 2018-19. The committee chose the grants from 24 proposals requesting over $115,000.
W&L awarded grants to the following organizations:
- American Red Cross of the Roanoke and New River Valleys Virginia, to provide immediate disaster relief to families following home fires in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County
- AmeriCorps VISTA Program, to provide funding for programs such as Campus Kitchens, Shepherd Poverty Program and Experiential Learning
- Boxerwood Education Association, for general operational support for Project NEST
- Bridge to Hope Food Pantry, for procurement, storage and distribution of food to clients
- The Community Closet at Christ Episcopal Church, for acquisition of essential clothing, supplies and operational expenses to support the mission
- The Community Table of Buena Vista, Inc. , to purchase food and for essential operational expenses
- Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity, for a new computer and software for financial program classes
- Hoofbeats Therapeutic Riding Center, to purchase tack items for therapy horses
- Mission Next Door, to fund local projects and cash reserves
- Natural Bridge/Glasgow Food Pantry, Inc., for food purchase and essential operational expenses
- PMHS Boys’ Varsity Soccer, for uniforms and equipment
- RACS: Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition, to support a student summit intended to reduce underage drinking and other substance abuse
- RCHS Parent Teacher Student Association, to provide hands-on learning tools for high school students
- John’s United Methodist Church, for its Mission Committee Annual Blanket Giveaway
- Valley Program for Aging Services, to assist with the construction of an accessible ramp and garden space for the Maury River Senior Center in Buena Vista
- Rockbridge Area YMCA, for after-school and enrichment programs
Established in 2008, W&L’s Community Grants Committee evaluates requests for financial donations and support from Lexington and Rockbridge County. While the University has long provided financial and other assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations in the community on a case-by-case basis, the Community Grants Program formalizes W&L’s role in supporting regional organizations and activities through accessible grant-making.
During its 2017-18 cycle, the Community Grants Committee awarded $50,000. Proposals may be submitted at any time, but they are reviewed only semiannually, at the end of the calendar year and at the end of the fiscal year. The submission deadline for the second round of evaluations for 2018-19 will be: by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2019. Interested parties may download the proposal guidelines at http://go.wlu.edu/communitygrants.
Proposals should be submitted as electronic attachments (Word or PDF) via e-mail to email@example.com. Please call (540) 458-8417 with questions. If an electronic submission is not possible, materials may be faxed to (540) 458-8745 or mailed to Washington and Lee University Community Grants Committee, Attn: James D. Farrar, Jr., Office of the Secretary, 204 W. Washington St., Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450-2116.
Radical Rebirth Beth Staples reinvents W&L's Shenandoah magazine with a commitment to diverse voices and intensive collaboration.
“The purpose of literature is to expand the reader’s sense of the world and their place in it. It should also be one of our goals for being alive: stepping into another person’s shoes and practicing radical empathy.”
~ Beth Staples
Even to a veteran editor like Beth Staples, the literary legacy of Shenandoah magazine, her new charge, must weigh on the mind. In August, Staples took the reins from Shenandoah’s longtime editor R.T. Smith. In early December, she debuts her inaugural issue of the publication, which includes a fresh crop of writers and artists, new features and a completely overhauled website and brand.
At nearly 70 years old, Shenandoah, published by Washington and Lee university, has helped define and shape the American literary canon. Early contributors include Tom Wolfe ’51 (also a founding writer as an undergraduate), EE Cummings, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. More recently, the works of Wendell Berry, Joyce Carol Oates, Jacob M. Appel, Speer Morgan, Lee Smith, Claudia Emerson and Rita Dove have graced its pages. The magazine has been online-only since 2011.
“At first, I thought, how do I carry on the tradition of Shenandoah while making it my own?” said Staples, who is the first woman to edit the magazine. Staples most recently served as editor at Ecotone and Lookout Books and as lecturer and assistant director of The Publishing Laboratory at UNC-Wilmington. Numerous works she has edited have been reprinted or recognized in prize anthologies, including the O’Henry Award Stories, Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, among others.
“But,” she said, “I think the way I carry on the tradition is by making it my own.”
This ownership means an unapologetic commitment to “diversify the content and diversify the voices” featured. “White, heteronormative, cisgendered male characters and stories have long dominated the American canon, and this has kept many readers and writers out of the literary community,” said Staples. “I consider it my job to privilege voices that don’t fit into that category, not just because it’s the right thing to do to counteract many years of established practice, but because reading is one of a very few ways we can jump into the mind of someone else.”
The fundamental purpose of literature in Staples’ view is “to expand the reader’s sense of the world and their place in it. It should also be one of our goals for being alive: stepping into another person’s shoes and practicing radical empathy.”
Other historic firsts for Shenandoah under Staples’ leadership include translations, interviews, personal essays, comics, drawings and novel excerpts. Her first issue contains an interview with fiction writer John Keene, who was recently awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant for his work exploring how historical narratives shape modern lives, especially for people of color and queer people. Cut-paper and comics artist Mita Mahato provided the cover art.
Staples also on-boarded poet and English professor Lesley Wheeler to serve as poetry editor. Chris Gavaler, an associate professor of English, is Shenandoah’s first-ever comics editor, and Seth Michelson, assistant professor of Spanish, is its first translations editor. Jeff Barry, digital humanities librarian, is driving the website redesign.
The Keene interview was conducted by two students for a course with Ricardo Wilson, assistant professor of English, who also served as a contributing editor. “These kinds of partnerships with others on campus are especially exciting to me,” said Staples.
Staples also leads a class of 12 student interns who are involved with nearly every aspect of the magazine’s rebirth.
“Beth impresses me with her willingness to listen to and genuinely consider the input of students with marginal, if any, experience in literary editing,” said Colin Berger ’20, an English and biology double major who is one of Staples’ interns. “Our group is composed of people from all over the country, studying different things, with vastly different personal experiences and beliefs. Our room is often loud and occasionally arguments arise, but the classroom environment has never become disrespectful or contentious.”
In Staples’ view, supporting writers at every stage of their careers is the most important and rewarding aspect of her job — as editor of Shenandoah and as leader in the classroom. “The editorial voice should be a very specific and encouraging one,” she said. “The interns and I edited an essay collaboratively this semester, and we just had a Skype conversation with the author. It was kind of a love fest. She was so grateful for the student input, and they had such wonderful things to say about her work. Watching that conversation — how articulate and invested they were — was really moving to me.”
Crafting thoughtful acceptance letters is another way to support writers — “to give them something to return to when they feel unsure, unconfident. Writing is hard and publishing may be even harder.”
Staples, a writer of fiction and non-fiction herself, knows how meaningful that feedback can be.
The editing process is a collaborative relationship between writer and editor, teasing out subconscious themes and sculpting conscious language into the strongest possible product for readers. “Spending time in that space enriches my job and my life,” said Staples. “I hope it does the same for the writers I work with, and I hope their work is stronger and more affecting for it.”
Shenandoah Literary Launch Party
When: Nov. 29, 4-5 p.m.
Where: CGL Atrium
Join new editor Beth Staples and the intern team to celebrate the relaunch of Shenandoah. The event will feature readings from the new issue, an unveiling of the new logo and website, and refreshments.
A W&L Experience, Reprised Morgan Luttig '14, who studied vocal performance and education at W&L, has returned as visiting instructor of music while Professor Shane Lynch is on sabbatical.
“In my opinion, there is nothing quite as authentic and meaningful as humans using their own instruments in a choral ensemble.”
~ Morgan Luttig ’14
Major: Music – Vocal Performance
Hometown: Lake Forest, Illinois
What have you been up to since you graduated from W&L in 2014?
After graduating from W&L I moved to Savannah, Georgia, where I taught pre-K through 12th grade music at St. Andrew’s School. In that position I was the choral director for 3rd through 12th grade choral ensembles, and I also taught general music for 3-year olds, kindergarten, and 2nd grade. I also acted as music director for the lower school and upper school musicals, and led a cross-divisional a cappella group at the school. Outside of teaching I sang with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus, iCantori Vocal Ensemble and a church choir. While in Savannah I had the opportunity to be a conducting fellow with the Savannah Children’s Choir, and Assistant Artistic Director for RISE Chorales, a new young women’s chorale in Savannah.
During my third year of teaching, I began my master’s degree work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. I completed my degree in Princeton the following academic year. I went to school for a master of music education – choral emphasis degree and was a music education graduate assistant, teaching 6th grade general music at the local middle school. While doing my master’s work, I made sure to continue my work with children’s choirs, acting as a conducting fellow for the Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir and Associate Conductor for the Westminster Neighborhood Children’s Choir. It has been a busy few years!
What made you decide to embark on a career in vocal music?
I actually decided to pursue choral music as a career when my family moved to Lake Forest, Illinois, right before I started high school. Previously we were located in Virginia, and I was determined to enter the journalism program in my local high school. However, my new school did not have a journalism program, so instead I elected to be in choir. I’ve been in choirs for as long as I can remember, but it was in those high school ensembles that I truly fell in love with ensemble singing. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing conducting opportunities in high school and beyond. I’ve found unbelievable power in choral music, not only for those who are singing, but also for audiences. In my opinion, there is nothing quite as authentic and meaningful as humans using their own instruments in a choral ensemble.
How did W&L prepare you for your choice of careers?
I could not have asked for a more personalized education at Washington and Lee. Professor Shane Lynch helped prepare me for my career in choral music education with individual attention and guidance that has made a world of difference in my teaching. Dr. Lynch brought me in as part of the Choral Conducting Mentorship Program, where he mentored me not only as an educator but as an ensemble conductor. W&L provided me the opportunity to conduct all choral ensembles throughout my time as a student, which is a unique element of the program.
In addition, the teacher education program at W&L, under the guidance of professors Lenna Ojure and Haley Sigler, was instrumental in my future career. Opportunities to student teach and participate in urban education classes, as well as being active in classrooms in Rockbridge County and beyond, were some of the highlights of the W&L education program.
Did anyone at W&L serve as a mentor to you when you were a student? If so, who and how?
My greatest mentor at W&L was Professor Lynch, the director of choral activities. He took a chance on me when I was a high school student visiting campus, and he spoke with me about the opportunities I could have at W&L as part of the Choral Conducting Mentorship Program. I would not be where I am today without him. He mentored me throughout my time here at W&L, and never lost touch while I was teaching Pre-K-12, and we continued to keep in touch throughout my master’s studies. Now, he and the rest of the music faculty and W&L administration have taken a leap of faith in bringing me back to take his position while he is on sabbatical this year. It is such an honor to be here. I could never replace him and the enormous impact that he’s had on this campus, but I love working with the choirs during my time here!
What exciting things are in the works for the groups you are conducting during the remainder of this academic year?
We have such an exciting year ahead! We have performed two full-length concerts already, one for Parents and Family Weekend, and the other being our Annual Fall Choral Concert. Coming up, Cantatrici and the Men’s Glee Club will perform alongside the instrumental ensembles at the Holiday Pops Performances on December 3 and 4. The University Singers will perform next for the Annual Candlelight Lessons and Carols Service on December 6.
One exciting part of the year is that the University Singers will travel to Scotland in April for an international choir tour. Part of the focus of this year’s choral studies is audience engagement and how we can utilize different pieces, performance techniques and movement to engage audiences of all ages and communities. This focus appears in the international tour program’s four sections—togetherness and separation, prayer and reflection, Scottish Traditions, and American Essences of Home. Each element of the tour set challenges the ensemble, expanding across time periods and styles.
All choral ensembles, including Cantatrici, The Men’s Glee Club, and University Singers will perform at SSA in March, as well as within their own individual concerts during Winter Term.
What is it like to stand on the other side of that conductor’s podium?
There are no words that could truly describe how strange, amazing and humbling it is to be on the conductor’s podium in front of the W&L choral ensembles. When I stood on the podium as a student conductor during my time here, I never could have imagined being fully in charge of these ensembles as their director. I’m continually blown away by the caliber of students, singers and musicians we have here at Washington and Lee. The choral students dedicate so much of themselves to this program, and that is something that Professor Lynch has developed throughout his tenure. From first-years through seniors, these students love choir in a way that is so much stronger even since my time here. It is truly an honor to stand in front of these students.
W&L Presents 2018 Holiday Pops Concert Tickets may be obtained by trading a non-perishable food item to benefit Campus Kitchen at W&L.
Washington and Lee University presents its annual Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Both concerts, which will be identical, will be performed in Wilson Concert Hall on the W&L campus. The performance features ensemble groups from the Department of Music performing pieces that celebrate the holiday season. The program will include individual group performances, massed ensemble pieces and a variety of student conductors.
This year, W&L is encouraging the spirit of giving within our community by requiring patrons to exchange one non-perishable good for each Holiday Pops ticket. All goods collected will be donated to Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee, an organization that recovers and reuses food to provide balanced meals for low-income members of the Rockbridge County community.
The concert will also be streamed live online here.
Tickets must be obtained in person at the Lenfest Box Office during regular hours. They will be available Nov. 26 through showtime each night (while supplies last). Box Office hours are Monday- Friday, 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. For more information, call 540-458-8000.
A 345-Year-Old Bestseller “An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperor of China" tells the story of a trade delegation sent from the Dutch East India Company to China in 1655-57.
Today, if you want to learn about China, you have many choices; a Google search yields 135,000,000 hits in less than a second, and if you want a hard copy, Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee has over 9,000 books on the subject. In the 17th century, your choices were far more limited. This book, “An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperor of China,” was one of the few available, and was considered by many to be the best.
It is actually an English translation of Johan Nieuhof’s “Het Gezandtschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen Keizer van China.” First published in the Netherlands in 1665, it is an account of a trade delegation sent from the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company) to Shunzhi, the emperor of China, in 1655-57.
The Dutch East India Company, which was often known by its initials VOC, had been founded in 1602 and had a monopoly on Dutch trade with Asia (which in 17th-century Europe was known as “the Indies”). One of the first joint-stock companies in existence, the VOC helped create the modern global economy, building a trade network that linked Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It also helped popularize and commercialize a wide range of Asian products, such as spices, silk, cotton, porcelain and tea, to European and American consumers.
The company had been acquiring Chinese goods via Chinese traders who brought them to VOC trading settlements in Taiwan and Indonesia, but wanted direct access to China itself. Eschewing violence and intimidation (tactics they used often to force trading concessions in other parts of Asia), they opted for negotiation, and sent a trade delegation, or “embassy,” as they referred to it, to Beijing.
The delegation was led by two merchants, Pieter de Goyer and Jacob Keijser, who were accompanied by four other merchants, six servants, a surgeon, a steward, a drummer and trumpeter, the last two no doubt to assist in making a grand entrance. The trip from the Dutch settlement of Batavia in Indonesia to Beijing and back took almost two years. Diplomatically and economically it was not a success; the Chinese refused to allow Dutch merchants to trade in Chinese ports. It did, however, lead to the production of this book, which was written by the delegation’s steward, Johan Nieuhof (1618-1672).
Nieuhof, who had previously worked for the Dutch West Indian Company in Brazil, was instructed to make a written and pictorial record of the delegation’s trip through China. He saw it as an “opportunity to make a more exact Discovery of the Genius and Manners of the People, and Customs of the Place, and Countrys supposed by all Geographers to be the richest in the World.”
In addition to 431 pages of text that touched on China’s geography, government, religion, economy and history, the book was illustrated with over 150 engravings “taken from life” that provided “accurate Maps and Sketches, not only of the Countreys and Towns, but also of Beasts, Birds, Fishes, and Plants.” Among the illustrations were depictions of Chinese cities like the port of Guangzhou and the capital, Beijing; monuments like the porcelain pagoda at Nanjing and the Great Wall (which he did not actually see); and one of the earliest depictions of a tea plant to be published in Europe.
Though Nieuhof claimed that he had provided “an accurate description of the Chinese cities, villages, government, sciences, crafts, customs, religions, buildings, costumes, ships, mountains, crops, animals etc…,” in reality his observations were combined with accounts by earlier European missionaries. Many of the illustrations were embellished with people, animals and ships to make the scenes more exotic and visually appealing than his original on-site sketches.
Despite these flaws, Nieuhof’s “Embassy” was one of the most comprehensive, accurate and lavishly illustrated books on China published in 17th-century Europe. It was a bestseller, going through 14 editions in five languages (Dutch, French, German, English and Latin) by 1700, and was avidly read by merchants, armchair travelers and manufacturers, who mined its illustrations for designs for paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics.
The original edition was translated, or “English’d,” as the title page attests, from the Dutch by the London-based cartographer and publisher John Ogilby (1600-1676) in 1669. Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), a Prague-born etcher who worked in London, copied the illustrations. The English translation proved so popular that a second edition, of which this book is an example, was published in 1673.
This particular copy is inscribed on the flyleaf “Mary Curtis 1911.” This is probably the Mary Curtis born in 1878 (date of death unknown). She was the sister of Francis Gardner Curtis (1868-1915), a painter, Asian scholar and curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the early 20th century. Mary shared her brother’s interest in Asia. From her, the book passed to her niece, Helen Coolidge, and from her to her son, Francis Coolidge. It was gifted to the Reeves Center in his honor by his wife, Marylouise, and their two daughters, Lucy Coolidge and Georgina Coolidge ’08.
Fourth Mudd Lecturer Talks Bioculture of Ethics and Identity Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, is the fourth speaker in the 2017-18 “Ethics of Identity” series.
Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, a sociomedical scientist, is the fourth speaker in the 2017-18 “Ethics of Identity” series, sponsored by the Roger Mudd Center for Ethics at Washington and Lee University. Her public lecture is Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Hillel Multipurpose Room on the W&L campus.
The title of her talk, which is free and open to the public, is “Thinking Bioculturally About Identity and Ethics.”
Jordan-Young’s research focuses on sex, gender and sexuality, as well as the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. She is the Tow Associate Professor for Distinguished Scholars and the chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College.
Jordan-Young completed her undergraduate work at Bryn Mawr College before going on to earn master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. She has served as principal investigator and deputy director of the Social Theory Core at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research of the National Development and Research Institutes, and as a health disparities scholar sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. In 2008, she was a visiting scholar in cognitive neuroscience at the International School for Advanced Studies.
Her book, “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences,” is a critical analysis of scientific research supporting the theory that psychological sex differences in humans are “hard-wired” into the brain. She argues that studies of “human brain organization theory” fail to meet scientific standards.
“Jordan-Young’s work asks fascinating and important questions about the brain and the unfolding of a person’s identity,” said Brian Murchison, director of the Mudd Center. “Her book challenges accepted understandings of the influence of early hormone exposures, and she asks whether a range of studies are actually consistent with the scientific method. Her talk will add another dimension to this year’s Mudd Center theme, which explores human identity in its various facets.”
In 2016, Jordan-Young was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on a book on testosterone, “T: The Unauthorized Biography,” with co-author Katrina Karkazis.
The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. When he made his contribution, Mudd said that “given the state of ethics in our current culture, this seems a fitting time to endow a center for the study of ethics, and my university is the fitting home.”
For full details on this series, visit the Mudd Center webpage.
Results of Fall Moot Court Competitions Announced
A busy fall season of intra-school moot court events concluded this week with the finals of the Mock Trial competition. In addition to two more school-based competitions, W&L Law teams will now gear up for external competitions at the regional and national level.
Results for the W&L competitions are as follows:
Robert J. Grey Negotiations Competition
The team of Brandon Howell ’20L and Kaya Vyas ’20L won the competition. Lee Sands ’20L and Austin Scieszinski ’20L were the runners-up. Also competing in the finals were the teams of Mahalia Hall ’20L and Jessiah Hulle ’20L and Elizabeth McLellan ’20L and Grant Cokeley ’20L.
The competition was judged by Robert J. Grey, Jr. ’76L, Andrea Wahlquist ’95L, and Alvin Brown.
John W. Davis Appellate Advocacy Competition
Junior Ndlovu ’20L took first place in the oral advocacy competition and Bonnie Gill ’20L won for brief writing. Robert Wilson ’19L finished second in both the oral and brief writing competition.
Others competing in the finals were Jessiah Hulle ’20L and Joe DuChane ’19L (oral advocacy) and Shelby Brooks ’20L (brief writing).
Judges for the competition were the Hon. Rossie Alston, Jr. of the Virginia Court of Appeals, the Hon. Mark Davis ’88L of the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Hon. Amit Mehta of the District Court for the District of Columbia.
Mock Trial Competition
Natey Kinzounza ’20L was the competition winner, with Robert Wilson ’19L finishing as runner-up. Austin Cano ’20L and Kathy McLaughlin ’19L also competed in the finals.
The judges for the competition were the Hon. Elizabeth Dillon (United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia), the Hon. Charles Dorsey ‘79L (23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia), and the Hon. Anita Filson ‘82L (25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia).
Women Watching Wall Street Alumnae business reporters recently visited W&L to offer advice and invite students to lean in and learn.
“We wish we had more people our own age to give us advice about the real world.”
That’s what Alecia Swasy, Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism, heard from recent graduates. With that in mind, she invited seven alumnae who cover the financial markets to offer advice — both professional and personal — and provide networking opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in business journalism.
“Covering Corporate America and Wall Street is an exciting beat and W&L’s graduates are working at the very best international news outlets,” Swasy said. “Who better than seven of our alums to show students about such exciting careers?”
Making the journey to Lexington were Mary Childs ’08 and Alexandra Scaggs ’09, who have close to a decade each under their belts, and recent grads Leslie Yevak ’17, Anna Akins ’17, Rachel Adams-Heard ’16, Polina Noskova ’17 and Rachel Stone ’17.
Representing Barron’s, Bloomberg, CNBC and S&P Global, the alumnae spent Oct. 19 in Swasy’s Covering Business class, at a panel discussion open to all students and at a networking session hosted by the Office of Career and Professional Development.
In Swasy’s class, which included business journalism, strategic communications and business majors, the group offered insights on how to land that first job and advance through the ranks. Many of the suggestions were tried-and-true chestnuts: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” “Always volunteer to take on something outside your comfort zone,” “If you want that assignment, keep asking for it” and “Find a mentor.”
The group emphasized the importance of being open to new opportunities and not being defined or limited by a job title or description. As Stone noted: “Your first job is probably not going to be your career. If a better opportunity comes your way, take it. View your current job as a stepping stone.” Childs added, don’t let an employer slot you into a box. “When your job isn’t serving you any longer, get out. If you’re genuinely curious and have proven yourself to be competent, you’ll be able to move up, either at your current job or somewhere else.”
They also stressed that their experiences on the Ring-tum Phi and Rockbridge Report, as well as their summer internships, served them well in promoting themselves. Yevak, a journalism major, parlayed her ability to cut packages for the Rockbridge Report into a position with CNBC. “Having some producing experience was definitely an advantage in landing this position at CNBC,” she said. “I’m learning every day because I don’t have an economics or business background.
“It’s hard not to tell you not to be scared,” Yevak added. “But think of your first job as being surrounded by experienced people. Take advantage of having all those intelligent people around you.” Akins recommended being honest. “Let people know you’re right out of college and that you have questions.”
Several advised taking Beat Reporting — “There’s no substitute,” said Scaggs. Classes in ethics, economics (specifically Professor Linda Hooks’ course on Money and Banking) and accounting ranked high on the list. And there was the shout-out to taking as many liberal arts classes outside the major as possible. “I wished I had taken more,” said Scaggs. “They can be really useful in helping you look at the financial world from a different perspective.”
As the veteran journalists of the group, Scaggs and Childs wished they had pushed back a bit earlier in their careers, particularly when an editor was insisting on a story that either didn’t have legs or didn’t match the reporting. Adams-Heard provided an example: “You have to challenge editors when you feel like the story’s moving in a direction that isn’t fair to your sources or the people you interviewed. When I was writing a story on map camps in the oilfields in West Texas, I tried to be very careful about not relying on stereotypes and using only details and anecdotes that added value.” She emphasized that if you’re going to earn the community’s trust, then “you have to be accountable to the people you interview.” Childs agreed: “Be conscious that you are writing about humans. You can be fair and kind.”
With these women working in a male-dominated field, the classroom and panel discussions turned to sexual harassment and pay equity. The general consensus was that a thick skin is useful. “You’re going to be called sweetheart,” said one. “There will be lots of mansplaining,” added another. Salaries for some still lag behind those of their male counterparts, and they advised students to advocate for themselves early and often.
But there are signs of progress. Scaggs noted, “Five years ago, I didn’t see a lot of women in middle management. That was discouraging, but the change I’m seeing has been astonishing.” She mentioned that at least one of the places she’s worked has significantly expanded its maternity leave. Noskova cited an example of Bloomberg reporters including more women and minority sources in coverage.
Overall, the group is cautiously optimistic that the work environment is improving for women. They hope that by sharing their stories, the next generation of business reporters will be even better prepared than they were.
Reporters at Large
Anna Akins ’17 is a reporter for S&P Global in Charlottesville. She covers big tech firms, including Facebook, Google and Apple. At W&L, she interned for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Savannah Morning News.
Rachel Adams-Heard ’16 is an energy reporter at Bloomberg in its Houston office. She won first place for general news reporting-newspaper (small school division) in Region 2 of the 2014 Society of Professional Journalists college journalism competition.
Mary Childs ’08 is a senior reporter at Barron’s, where she writes about debt and alternative investing, among other things. She’s also working on a book about Pimco, Bill Gross and the bond market. She has worked for the Financial Times and Bloomberg.
Polina Noskova ’17 is a breaking news editor at Bloomberg, where she also interned as a student. She’s covered Tesla, Harvey Weinstein, cryptocurrencies and more.
Rachel Stone ’17 is a finance technology reporter for S&P Global in Charlottesville. As an intern for the Charlotte Observer, she interviewed the mother of Lorne Ahrens, one of five police officers shot and killed in Dallas on July 7. She also interned at The Roanoke Times. At W&L, she was the cops reporter for the Rockbridge Report.
Alexandra Scaggs ’09 is a senior reporter at Barron’s covering U.S. markets and investing, with a focus on fixed income. Previously, she worked at the Financial Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. At W&L, she wrote about a former POW who lived down the road and a distant ancestor who adopted and raised a bear in rural Virginia.
Leslie Yevak ’17 is a planning producer at CNBC, where she has produced hits on such topics as the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Beijing Auto Show and CNBC’s “Trade War Tour” series. At W&L she was news editor of the Ring-tum Phi, a news producer for the Rockbridge Report and a summer intern at Fox News in New York.