Tag Archive for The Boston Globe

Tucker on Facial Recognition Technology

Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker writes in The Boston Globe about the FBI’s new Next Generation Identification System, a “billion-dollar project to replace the bureau’s old fingerprinting system with the world’s biggest biometric database….Perhaps most controversially, it will use state-of-the-art facial recognition technology, allowing the government to identify suspects across a gigantic database of images collected from mug shots, surveillance cameras, employment background checks, and digital devices seized with a search warrant. The technology itself is still evolving rapidly; for example, the National Institute of Justice is developing 3-D binoculars and cameras that allow facial recognition and capture in real time,” she writes.

While some find this development unsettling, Tucker reminds readers that it is “actually just the latest outgrowth of an art and science that has been under development for more than 150 years.” The development of techniques for recognizing human faces dates all the way back to the introduction of prison photography in England in 1852, Tucker writes, taking readers through a brief tour of technology updates since then. And while these developments often have been met with hesitation from a skeptical public, they have nevertheless forged ahead.

Tucker is also associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor in the environmental studies program, associate professor of science in society, and faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

Loui Plays at the Intersection of Music, Medicine

Psyche Loui is assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, is part of the quartet “Folie a Quatre.”

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, is one-fourth of the musical quartet “Folie à Quatre,” profiled in The Boston Globe. The musicians–all mental health professionals–use “music to explore mental illness from a different angle, performing for patients as well as fellow medical professionals looking to learn more about the mysteries of the human mind,” the article explains. Focusing on brilliant yet troubled composers who may have struggled with mental illness, they treat each as a medical case study while learning one of their musical compositions.

The group performed in Mass. General Hospital after the Boston Marathon bombing; it opened at the World Congress on Heart Disease; and has played at nursing homes, as well as more typical venues like Shakespeare in the Park.

Loui, whose current research at Wesleyan focuses on chills–“the ineffable, spine-tingling feeling of connection that can happen when a person feels moved by music”–told the Globe that “unlike the last quartet she was in, where the group would focus on sections, asking how each ‘envelope’ of the music should sound, Folie à Quatre members will often share how the music makes them feel.”

Jacobs ’98 Discusses His Popular Fitness App

Jason Jacobs

Jason Jacobs ’98 is cofounder and chief executive of Boston’s FitnessKeeper Inc. Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe

Jason Jacobs ’98, creator of the RunKeeper smartphone fitness app, sat down recently with The Boston Globe to chat about his business. The article notes that Jacobs, a government major at Wesleyan, proves that “you don’t have to be a techie to start a successful tech firm.”

“I didn’t study a whole lot,” Jacobs tells the Globe, “but when I did, American government was my major. I got out in the late ’90s, and I came to Boston and started working in small, high-growth technology. I’m not trained as an engineer. The plumbing of the Internet is very important but it’s not something that I could relate to a ton.”

Read more of Jacobs’ secrets to his success here.

Bush ’93 Offers a Prescription to Fix Hospitals

Jonathan Bush ’93, CEO of athenahealth and author of Where Does It Hurt?: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care, writes in The Boston Globe magazine about the problem with the business model of today’s hospitals, and offers a prescription for change.

Currently, he writes, “The business model of practically every hospital is predicated on mysterious and outrageous charges that someone else, either an insurance company or the government, will eventually pay or haggle down. There is almost no consideration of the patient as customer, someone who could conceivably compare prices and service and value. In our convoluted system, the insurance company is the customer and the patient is a widget to be processed, administered and billed for.”

The result? A system that is threatening to bankrupt our economy. But Bush offers a glimmer of hope:

“From the point of view of an entrepreneur, this scene is dripping with potential. All you have to do is to bite off a chunk of that hospital business, reduce the overhead, and offer routine services at reasonable rates. In a market economy, as prices become transparent and shoppers entertain more choices, the big hospitals will increasingly struggle to draw business. And these battles are already underway.”

Read more here.

A BA in Three Years

The Boston Globe featured Wesleyan’s three-year degree option, which allows students to get a jump start on graduate school or a career while saving 20 percent off their tuition bill. The option is not right for everyone, and requires students to take on heavy workloads, and perhaps give up certain opportunities like study abroad.

The Globe interviewed students pursuing the three-year degree, including Victoria Ramos ’15, who is premed and majoring in neuroscience and behavior.

At the beginning, she was simply driven. Then she realized how much money she could save for herself and her parents. With financial aid, her family is paying $22,000 this year. She also went to one summer session, then spent the rest of the season working at her parents’ grocery store.

Last semester was “really rough,” she said, because of a tough organic chemistry class. Still, she is in a Latin dance troupe and two other student groups, earning a B+ average, and says she still has time for her friends.

Her secret: six hours of sleep is enough, she says. And when she does need rest, she ignores her friends’ text messages.

If she had time, Ramos would have liked to run track and study abroad in France. But ultimately, she doesn’t feel deprived.

“In the time I’ve spent here I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve done,” she said, “and gotten a good breadth of things I wanted to do, a taste of everything.”

Time also featured Wesleyan’s three-year option.

October: “Financial Crisis Month”

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman writes in The Boston Globe that October should be dubbed “Financial Crisis Month.” Over the past two centuries in the U.S. and Europe, October—and, more generally, the autumn months—have seen a string of serious financial crises. Grossman explains the historical reasons behind this trend, from the timing of the harvest to the bursting of asset bubbles. Today, he writes, politicians returning from their summer vacations and doing “stupid things” is most likely to blame for the continued popularity of financial crises in October.

Grossman also recently published an op-ed in USA Today calling upon policy makers to regularly conduct “autopsies” of economic policy—particularly when things go wrong, as with the recent government shut-down and near-breach of the debt ceiling.

Grossman’s new book, Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Themhas been the subject of significant media attention recently, including a review in the Oct. 28 issue of The New Yorker, and an interview on WOR Radio 710.


Historical Lessons for Economic Policy

Ahead of the publication of his new book, WRONG: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Them, Professor of Economics Richard Grossman talked with The Boston Globe’s Ideas section. They discussed the book, Grossman’s Guggenheim Fellowship, and a number of current economic issues, from the Obama administration’s economic policy to bank bailouts to the threat to the Euro.

They Eat Horses, Don’t They?

In the wake of a recent scandal in which horse meat was discovered in meat products labeled as beef in the United Kingdom, University Professor of Letters Kari Weil wrote in The Boston Globe about a debate in 19th-century France over the morality of eating horse meat. Hippophagy, or the eating of horse meat, was not legalized until the late 19th century in France, and only after a “public campaign to override objections very like the ones Americans have today.”

“…the fact that it took so much persuasion to convince the French to consider eating horse—in a dispute that exposed passionate beliefs about public health, animal rights, and social welfare—suggests why we are once again facing a public scandal over hippophagy. At heart, it is an unsettled cultural crisis about which animals we accept as moral to eat,” writes Weil.

Weil is chair of the College of Letters.

The Enduring Power of the “Monkey-to-Man” Image

Writing in The Boston Globe’s Sunday Ideas section, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, associate professor of science and society, associate professor and chair of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, explores the enduring power of the 150-year-old “Monkey-to-Man” evolution image. Though it is universally agreed that the image is an inaccurate depiction of Darwinian evolutionary theory, it has prevailed as a “lightning rod for debate,” Tucker writes.

Ex-Inmates Use Dante to Learn, Inform, Entertain

A feature in The Boston Globe profiles a class at York Correctional Facility taught by Ron Jenkins and aided by his Wesleyan students that has provided opportunities for inmates after their release. The class led Jenkins to write a play about some of the inmates interspersing Dante’s Divine Comedy with their own experiences. The now ex-inmates and Jenkins will do a reading from the play at Harvard University this week.


Striegel: Male Eating Disorders Real, Overlooked

A Boston Globe feature cites a recent study by Ruth Striegel, Walter A. Crowell Professor of Social Sciences, Professor of Psychology, as proof that eating disorders among men not only exist, they are wide-spread and merit more inquiry. Striegel recently published a study looking at more that 45,000 men and women and found that binge-eating was nearly as prevalent among men as women. The study has drawn international attention and will likely spur more inquiry and a reassessment of treatment assumptions and strategies for eating disorders in general.