Alumni in Service to Oberlin College

Eight Alumni Share Their Real-World Expertise

Oberlinians returning to campus to provide classroom and public presentations helped to end the last academic year and to kick off this year. James D. Sutherland '90, delivered the Montie Block Lecture, "The Mystery of Metamorphosis: the Drosophelia Ecdysone Response," on April 24. A summa cum laude Oberlin graduate, he earned an M.A. in biology at Harvard in 1994 and a Ph.D. in 1996. His work under Professor Fotis C. Kafatos was conducted at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.

Paul Russell '78, associate professor of English at Vassar, spoke at Oberlin April 25, with a reception following at the Co-op Bookstore. The author of three novels--Sea of Tranquillity, Boys of Life, and The Salt Point--and several short stories and poems, his nonfiction work includes The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians Past and Present, and numerous reviews. Paul's visit was sponsored by the Department of English, the Creative Writing Program, and the Office of the President. He earned his Oberlin B.A. in English summa cum laude, and three degrees from Cornell--a Ph.D. in English in 1983, an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1982, and an M.A. in English the same year. In 1993 Paul received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writers Fellowship.

Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for her collection of short stories, Large Animals in Everyday Life, Wendy Brenner '87 read aloud to students from her work May 5. The collection premieres 11 stories with settings as diverse as rural southern and high-tech urban, with character emphasis on young, tough women seeking to hone their sensibilities. Her work has been published in Ploughshares, the New England Review, Southern Exposure, and the Mississippi Review. Wendy majored in creative writing at Oberlin and earned an M.F.A from the University of Florida. The Creative Writing Program sponsored her visit.

Theodore Bloomfield '44 arrived September 9 to speak to conservatory students. His topic: "In Search of Mahler's Tenth Symphony." Ted has had a distinguished career conducting symphony orchestras all over the globe, most notably as chief conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra from 1975 to 1982. He has appeared frequently in Belgium and Holland, and was a regular guest conductor of the German Opera Berlin. In 1990 Ted retired to the north coast of Oregon, but returned to Berlin to conduct the Berlin Symphony Orchestra in its 25th anniversary season. [For more news about Ted, see the 1944 class notes in this issue.]

Sponsored by the Department of Biology, Sarah Olken '90 talked with biology majors September 24 about graduate school, and lectured on her Ph.D. dissertation research, "Rusty Nails and Green Beans: Defining the Specificity of Neurotransmission." Sarah is a graduate student at Boston University working in the microbiology department's immunology training program. She was a biochemistry major at Oberlin, and was awarded the Howard Hughes Summer Student Research Fellowship, studying with biology professors Yolanda Cruz and Dennis Luck. Sarah has a graduate-student research fellowship from the Boston University School of Medicine.

Another recent visitor, Edina Harsay '91, gave the 1996-1997 Montie Block Lecture in biology--"Membrane Trafficking and Protein Sorting in a Simple Eukaryote"--October 10. Edina is completing requirements for a Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, at Cornell. At Oberlin, she worked with biology professors Yolanda Cruz and Robin Treichel, graduating with highest honors. She was awarded a National Institutes of Health Graduate Research Training Grant for 1991-94.

As part of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. Distinguished Lecturer Series, Suzanne O'Connell '73 was invited October 29 to discuss deep-sea perspectives on thermophaline circulation and climate change in the North Atlantic. Suzanne, who teaches at Wesleyan University, is on sabbatical leave this year at M.I.T. She has sailed on numerous ocean drilling projects, both as an ODP staff scientist, and, recently, as sedimentologist. While she was at Oberlin, Suzanne majored in geology and biology. Her Ph.D., awarded in 1986, is from Columbia University.

Physical anthropologist William Jungers '70 gave a slide presentation, "The Evolution and Extinction of Giant Primates in Madagascar," October 31. Students in Professor Lynn Fisher's course in biological anthropology heard him speak on another of his specialties--analyzing fossils to draw conclusions about how the earliest hominids walked, and explore what their activity patterns may have been. Lynn is Class of 1984. While he was on campus, Bill also shared time with senior anthropology and biology majors. A professor in the department of anatomical sciences and in the doctoral program of anthropological sciences, Bill teaches at the School of Medicine, State University of New York, Stony Brook. He graduated summa cum laude from Oberlin with a major in anthropology, and earned an M.A. in anthropology, and a Ph.D. in biological anthropology, at the University of Michigan. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Bill's daughter, Jocelyn, is an Oberlin junior.


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