Gerpha Gerlin '16

McAlister Teaches “Ethnography of Religion” Seminar in Haiti

In June, Professor Elizabeth McAlister taught a seminar on prayer practices at the State University of Haiti. She previously spent almost four months in Haiti studying with Pentecostal prayer warriors and Haitian sorcerers.

In June, Professor Elizabeth McAlister taught a seminar on the ethnography of religion at the State University of Haiti. She previously spent four months in Haiti interviewing Pentecostal prayer warriors and Haitian sorcerers.

Professor Elizabeth McAlister recently presented a weeklong intensive seminar on the ethnography of religion at the Anthropology and Sociology Department, Faculté d’Ethnologie, at the State University of Haiti, Université d’Etat d’Haïti. McAlister is professor of religion, professor of African-American studies, professor of American studies.

Her seminar catered to Haitian university students who are training in field methods of ethnography of religion.

The seminar wrapped up McAlister’s four-month study on “Understanding Aggressive Prayer Forms in Evangelicalism and Afro-Atlantic Religions.”

Her research was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation in “New Directions in Study of Prayer.” Developed through the Social Science Research Council’s program on religion and the public sphere, the funds support the academic ventures of 28 scholars and journalists on multidisciplinary aspects of prayer in a modern, global context.

Tsui ’15 to Study with Professor Fry as American Chemical Society Fellow

Elaine Tsui ’15

Elaine Tsui ’15, who is currently studying abroad, will speak at the 2014 Connecticut Valley Section-American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium.

This summer, Elaine Tsui ’15 will work on her undergraduate research in the Chemistry Department as an American Chemical Society Fellow.

Tsui, who is double majoring in English and chemistry, received the fellowship from the Society’s Connecticut Valley Section. Funding opportunities are available for those with interests in physics, biology, materials science, engineering and medicine.

As a fellow, Tsui will conduct self-directed research under the supervision of Albert J. Fry, the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry. In 2013, Tsui worked with Fry as a Hughes Fellow and studied “Andodic Oxidation of 1,1-Diphenylacetone in Various Alcohols.” She will continue this research for 10 weeks under the fellowship.

“I will be continuing work on a project that investigates the mechanism for the electrolytic conversion of 1,1-diphenylacetone to the benzhydryl alkyl ether,” Tsui said. “This particular reaction has been my main focus since I first started work in Professor Fry’s lab during my sophomore year.”

As a fellow, Tsui is also required to give a talk at next year’s Connecticut Valley Section-American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Tsui was initially notified of the opportunity through Professor Fry.

Of particular appeal to Tsui was the funding opportunity that the fellowship presented. “During the year, with all my classes and other responsibilities, it’s difficult to be able to carry out some of my experiments that take hours to complete, and the summer is a great opportunity to just focus on my project in lab,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t think I would actually get the fellowship considering how many excellent chemistry students are out there, so I was surprised and happy when I was notified that I had gotten it.”

With her most recent appointment, Tsui hopes to hone her skills as a chemical scientist. “I’m also hoping that I will be able to gain more familiarity with lab work and the entire process of using different techniques to investigate different questions we have,” she said.

From the experience, Tsui foresees a growing interest in chemical research surrounding her current work surrounding oxidation reactions in alcohols. “There is still so much to learn about this reaction,” said Tsui, “and the results we have been getting from some of our experiments continually surprise us.”

After graduating, Tsui hopes to pursue additional research opportunities in organic chemistry, largely in part to the influence of her alliance with Fry.

“I think being exposed to this environment and my own growing interest in my project and what my lab mates are working on have made me realize that I do want to get into a career in research,” she said.

Tsui is currently completing a semester abroad in England and will begin her research in June. She’s also planning to submit a paper for review and publication.

Faculty, Students Discuss Milgram’s “Shock” Experiment Research at Humanities Theory Salon

Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, along with Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14 (not pictured) presented “Body Resistance: Mapping Power and Defiance in the Milgram Experiments”, their research on the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments, on May 9 at the Center for Humanities’ last theory salon of the 2013-2014 school year.

Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, along with Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14 (not pictured) presented their research on the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments, May 9 at the Center for Humanities’ theory salon.

On Friday, May 9, the Center for Humanities held its last theory salon for the 2013-2014 academic year. The intimate faculty-student presentation revealed ground-breaking research on the Stanley Milgram “shock” obedience experiment, led by Jill Morawski, the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor of Psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and assistants Ethan Hoffman ’14 and Nick Myerberg ’14.

Stanley Milgram, a psychologist from Yale University, is known for his experiment on obedience to authority figures. In the 1960s, Milgram measured the willingness of participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their conscience. In the experiment, a subject is asked to deliver painful electric shocks to a learner, who is actually and actor. The subject believes the learner was receiving shocks, however there was no physical pain inflicted on the learner.

“Body Resistance: Mapping Power and Defiance in the Milgram Experiments” re-imagines the ways in which dissonance, power, and human behavior are taught and thought about. Rather than challenge the extent of Milgram’s contributions and their applications, the team was more interested in using archival information—largely based on Milgram’s observational notes and recordings—to analyze previously overlooked nuances. Much of the research draws on the construction of agency and, as suggested by Hoffman, Milgram’s own suspicions.

“Milgram did a lot of double-talk,” Hoffman explained, “and this led us to believe that he was attentive to the problematic nature of the work.”

Interest in these classic findings has been persistent throughout the years and, recently, is becoming more interdisciplinary. Milgram’s findings have extended outside of the realms of social psychology and have incited studies in cognitive psychology, neuroscience and legal theory.

“There is great demand for understanding behavior in terms of implicit attitudes,” Morawski said.