Lawrence community honored with awards and achievements

Maija Anstine

Asha Srinivasan

Assistant Professor of Music Asha Srinivasan received the first-place Ruam Samai Award award for “Dviraag,” her composition for flute and cello, at the 2011 Thailand International Composition Festival.

Srinivasan was ecstatic to have won the award. She commented, “I was happy just to have been chosen as one of four finalists and being invited to attend the festival in Thailand. To have won and have heard such wonderful genuine compliments for the audience as well as the expert judges was quite a remarkable experience.”

Srinivasan’s piece is heavily influenced by Carnatic music, derived from a vocal exercise she recalled learning as a child in India.

“Teaching composition at Lawrence has done wonders on reinvigorating my passion for composition,” she said. “Asking students critical questions and learning new ways of looking at composition from students has had a profound impact on my own methods of critical thinking and creative exploration.”

Garth Neustadter

Garth Neustadter ’10 received an award at the 2010-2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in the Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. He was honored for his musical contribution to “John Muir in the New World,” a PBS documentary on the naturalist who was instrumental in establishing national parks.

Said Neustadter, “Looking back on my time at Lawrence, I feel privileged to have had such a variety of different opportunities available to me. I sincerely believe it’s rare to find an undergrad community whose students and professors share a verve for both creativity and intellectual curiosity to the degree I experienced at Lawrence.”

Neustadter can add this award to a list of others, including the 2010 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award. The young composer, now attending Yale University, is also in collaboration with Turner Classic Movies to create soundtracks for silent films.

The documentary, released this year and directed by Catherine Tatge ’72, features the acting, costuming and directorial talents of several Lawrentians, including Stephen Anunson, Mark Hirsch, Katie Langenfeld, Ali Scattergood, Katy Harth and Naomi Waxman, as well as Professor of Anthropology Peter Peregrine and a handful of conservatory students who recorded the soundtrack.

Brent Peterson

The National Endowment of Humanities has awarded professor of German Brent Peterson, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Film Studies and German Robert Shandley of Texas A&M University, a $149,000 grant. The grant will go toward “Berlin’s Cultural Diversity Across Two Centuries,” a collaborative summer seminar for K-12 teachers focusing on German history and contemporary culture.

“I am very interested in promoting knowledge of other cultures, and I happen to know and love Germany,” said Peterson, though he emphasized the importance of experiencing any foreign culture through immersion.

For teachers who attend the summer seminar, Peterson noted, “the message is that Germany has more to offer and is more interesting and relevant than they might have otherwise thought… And Berlin is one of the most alive and fascinating places on the planet.”

He also mentioned similarities between Germany and the United States: “Our struggles to deal with immigration and integration are both similar and different from Germany’s, so both countries could learn from each other.”

Obtaining the grant involved a lengthy process, though Peterson and Shandley also received the grant in 2010. Said Peterson, “I view it as a major accomplishment for me and my co-director.”

National Science Foundation Grant

Lawrence has received a $552,666 grant from the National Science Foundation, which will go toward the acquisition of a confocal microscope.

Not only is the grant the largest instrumentation grant ever received by Lawrence, but, according to Associate Professor of Biology and Raymond H. Herzog Professor of Science Elizabeth De Stasio, it also “would be very rare to have undergraduate students using a confocal microscope.”

Explained De Stasio, “[The microscope] can collect pictures of many focal planes and compress them into one picture [as opposed to a standard microscope, which displays] only one focal plane.”

Both faculty and students will benefit from the grant, especially students pursuing Senior Experience projects. “There are already seven or eight students who could make use of this microscope in their current projects,” said DeStasio. “We expect that number to grow as faculty design projects that couldn’t really be done without the microscope.”

In their deliberations, the NSF recognized Lawrence’s “culture of “engaging undergraduates in meaningful ways with active research,” something that the microscope’s purchase will encourage, according to De Stasio.

Henry Luce Foundation Grant

Professor of Economics Marty Finkler and Associate Professor of Chinese Jane Parish Yang were instrumental in garnering a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to develop new areas of study at Lawrence focusing on sustainability in China.

The funding will go to support new study abroad opportunities, as well as new courses and collaborative research projects.

Said Yang, “The issue is important for an understanding of China, as it is perhaps the most important question for China’s immediate future.”

According to Yang, issues arise in China as hinterland areas develop. “If local areas are developed,” she said, “can development be done sustainably so it does not ruin the beautiful natural environment where so many minority peoples live? This is the question we want to pursue, and will have students lookin
g at various models of development in several villages.”

Lawrence is not the first institution to receive a grant for this area of study, and symposiums like one hosted by Hobart and William Smith Colleges have indicated the recent popularity of this interdisciplinary synthesis.