Bates in the News: March 30, 2018

Jesse Laflamme ’00

What makes eggs organic depends on whom you ask — PBS NewsHour

After the Trump administration rolled back a new definition of what an organic egg is, PBS NewsHour interviewed Jesse Laflamme ’00, CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs.

Jesse Laflamme ’00, CEO of Pete & Gerry’s Eggs, photographed in 2004. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The new rule, created late in the Obama administration, would have required organic egg producers to give their hens access to soil. Now, producers can continue to label eggs as “organic” if hens merely have access to sunlight, such as in a porch-like enclosure.

The much-looser definition “is just so misaligned with what consumers expect of organic,” Laflamme said. “It’s going to damage the organic seal and not just in the egg category. I’m talking about all types of organic products. This is a fundamental issue of consumer expectation of organic and trust.”

Pamela Dubin

Hartford Jewish Film Festival is a homecoming — Hartford Courant

Actress and alumna Pamela Dubin, a native of West Hartford, Conn., returned home for a screening of Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game, featured in the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival.

In the film, in which she stars alongside Paul Sorvino and the late Martin Landau, Dubin plays a nursing-home volunteer who grows close to Landau’s character, Abe, who is a resident of the home, as is Sorvino’s character, Phil.

The official trailer of Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game, co-starring alumna Pamela Dubin:

“It’s about aging at every level. She deals with age. He deals with age. It’s about how our society does not deal with age,” Dubin told the Hartford Courant.

Pamela Dubin and Martin Landau pose for a selfie on the set of Abe and Phil’s Last Poker Game.

“It was just the most beautiful role. I love this character,” Dubin told the Connecticut Jewish Ledger.

In an interview with West Hartford Life, Dubin talked about how inhabiting a role is like creating a new “part of yourself. Even though it’s a different person, it comes from you.”

The film will be screened April 22 in Nyack, N.Y., as part of the JCC-Rockland Jewish Film Festival.

Michael Rocque

There is clear link between mass shootings and mental illness — Los Angeles Times

Michael Rocque, assistant professor of sociology. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Efforts to “downplay the role of mental illness in mass shootings are simply misleading,” writes Bates criminologist Michael Rocque in the Los Angeles Times, pointing to media coverage that tries to do just that.

In fact, says Rocque, “there is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings.”

Research has shown that “individuals with major mental disorders…are more likely to commit violent acts,” says Rocque, an assistant professor of sociology. “When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings — an extreme and, fortunately, rare form of violence — we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.”

Digital and Computational Studies

A new kind of computer science major delves into how technology is reshaping society — Los Angeles Times

The nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, with Bates at the fore, are introducing digital and computational courses that “push students to examine how modern technology both changes and challenges society,” says reporter Rosanna Xia of the Los Angeles Times.

“In Maine,” she writes, “Bates College started a multidisciplinary Digital and Computational Studies program, with aims including ‘to interrogate the values and assumptions of a digitized world’ and ‘increase understanding of the power and limitations of computers in solving problems.’”

Matt Jadud, the inaugural holder of the Colony Family Professorship in Digital and Computational Studies, gives his talk, “It Begins With a Step,” in which he shared his vision and opportunities for the new DCS program. (Rene Roy for Bates College)

Robert Feintuch and Rona Pondick

Work by world-class couple evokes a physical response — Maine Sunday Telegram

A recently concluded exhibition at the Bates Museum of Art featuring painter Robert Feintuch, a senior lecturer in arts and visual culture, and sculptor Rona Pondick was “profound, engaging, disturbing and exciting,” writes Daniel Kany in the Maine Sunday Telegram. It was also likely “the best show in Maine this year.”

A married couple, Pondick and Feintuch are both internationally known, says Kany. Noting that Feintuch’s “touch with acrylic emulsions rivals that of the best watercolorists,” he calls one painting a “masterwork of feigned simplicity.” Pondick is a “worldwide art star,” Kany says, and her sculpture, “which combines human and animal elements, is striking, uncomfortably odd, and powerful.”

The artists’ work “digs deep in art history…but since the work elicits a physical response in the viewer, it’s accessible to anyone. The work is dazzling from a technical perspective (a little star power doesn’t hurt), and it is gorgeously displayed in the museum’s handsome main gallery.”

Sculptor Rona Pondick and painter Robert Feintuch pose in the Bates Museum of Art before the opening of their exhibition, Heads, Hands, Feet; Sleeping, Holding, Dreaming, Dying. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Cindy Voisin ’89

Students Finding Connection & Opportunities in Research with Social Justice Bent — WCAI

Heather Goldstone, science editor at Cape Cod public radio station WCAI, interviewed Cindy Voisine ’89, an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University, about her journey into biological research and why she uses a lowly worm known as C. elegans in her research.

Voisine studies aging and the diagnostics of certain diseases. Though worms are, well, worms, “we’re very similar to worms on a cellular level,” she said — a large number of neurons means a large number of behavioral responses. And worms only live for three weeks, meaning a valuable study on aging doesn’t take long.

A native of Fort Kent, Maine, and a first-generation college-goer, Voisine originally wanted to be a medical doctor, but it was at Bates that she decided to pursue a career in research, she told Goldstone.

At NEIU, many students have similar backgrounds — low-income, first-gen, bilingual — to her own. “I had gone through this journey of higher education and completing a Ph.D.,” she said. “I could provide some guidance to them at Northeastern that they couldn’t find at home.”

Amy Bass ’92

How this high school soccer coach brought a divided town together — The Today Show

Amy Bass ’92 returned to Lewiston to write One Goal, a book about how the Lewiston High School soccer team and its many Somali members won the 2015 state championship and provided a mode of unity for a town grappling with racism and xenophobia.

The story was widely publicized in February and March, appearing on The Today Show, The Christian Science Monitor, Maine Public, WNYC’s The Takeaway, and Sports Illustrated, among other local and regional outlets.

“They were so open and so generous, and I’m so grateful to them,” Bass told the Boston Globe of the players and coaches, whom she spent months getting to know. “I’m really thrilled that I’ve gotten to know Lewiston again in this new phase of its being, because it’s an incredible place.”

At a meet-and-greet at the Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services office, Amy Bass ’92 talks with Shobow Saban, one of the key figures in her new book. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Ali Howard ’10

Yelp brings a touch of Silicon Valley to its new D.C. digs — Washington Business Journal

Washington Business Journal’s Katie Arcieri took a tour of Yelp’s new D.C. office and interviewed its senior director and head of sales, Ali Howard ’10.

What Howard’s helped build is pretty swanky: “open-air floor plans, modern furniture, a large kitchen stocked with free snacks, a beer keg for on-tap drinks, and two game areas with a pool table, ping-pong and air hockey,” Arcieri writes.

The new space is much like Yelp’s other offices, and the expansion is part of Yelp’s effort to recruit talent in D.C. and the Southeast.

“D.C. is obviously a really vibrant, amazing city that we are thrilled to be in that’s not hard to get people to stay in,” Howard tells Arcieri. “Also, there are really smart, vibrant people in this city. We think there is an incredible talent pool that we can tap into.”

What does Yelp look for in that talent pool? Hunger, drive, and enthusiasm, Howard says.  “If you are someone who views the world glass half-full, you’re going to be more successful here.”

Evan Medeiros ’93

North Korea Asks for Direct Nuclear Talks, and Trump Agrees — The New York Times

Evan Medeiros ’93, a top Asia-Pacific advisor to Barack Obama, told The New York Times that a proposed meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un would be risky.

“Kim will never give up his nukes,” Mr. Medeiros said. “Kim played [South Korean president] Moon [Jae-in] and is now playing Trump.”

It’s a busy time for Asia-Pacific experts: The Trump administration imposed tariffs on China, Chinese president Xi Jinping was granted additional powers, and North Korea threatened a nuclear strike, then asked for talks.

Medeiros has been quoted widely in recent weeks, in publications ranging from The Irish Independent to Bloomberg to The New York Times.

Kate Burakowski ’00

Roller Derby: Kate Burakowski back on track in Providence league —

“My whole life is one big track analogy,” Kate Burakowski ’00 told’s Bill Abramson, who profiled the Bates track star turned ESL teacher turned roller derby maven. “It teaches determination, perseverance and not giving up.”

Burakowski had a “versatile” track career at Bates before moving to China to teach English. She earned a graduate degree in the U.K. and worked in the art world, then returned to Massachusetts as an art teacher. She spends her spare time competing as “Hellderly Spinster” with the Sakonnet River Roller Rats and the Killah Bees.

Rodney Galvao ’14

Squash, with a side of homework and dinner — Providence Journal

The Providence Journal’s Christine Dunn reports that SquashBusters, a Boston-based squash program for middle and high school students that also feeds players and supports them academically, started a team in Providence, R.I.

Rodney Galvao ’14, who joined SquashBusters at age 12, was brought on to run the team, which recruited 28 sixth-graders based on “their kindness and respect for others and for their effort in the classroom and for the sport.”

“The backs of SquashBusters T-shirts are printed with the words: College, Character, Health,” Dunn writes. “Since 2003, 98 percent of program graduates have enrolled in college, and 80 percent have completed their bachelor’s degrees within six years.”

Al Donahue ’99

Why Do The Country’s Top Racers Want This Man As Their Coach? — FloBikes

Cycling news and livestreaming platform FloBikes called Al Donahue ’99 “a go-to coach” for cyclocross.

Donahue, who lives in Easthampton, Mass., got into cyclocross, a form of cycling that involves racing on a variety of terrains and often carrying the bike over certain obstacles, in his 20s. His first client was Jeremy Powers, one of the top cross racers in the country.

Donahue uses his Bates biology education to understand the physiology of training for cyclocross racing, but he also “incorporates elements of yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and stretching in addition to their structured workouts on the bike.”

“That meditative state teaches people to get in more of a zone, in a flow state,” Donahue told FloBikes. “There’s a huge mental component to the higher-level competitions, and your brain — most people’s brains — will try to sabotage them. Riders who have a meditative practice can handle the stress of bigger races better.”


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