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Aaron Clauset lecture. Photo by Thom Carroll.
Aaron Clauset lecture. Photo by Thom Carroll.

Three Exciting Young Academic Alumni Lectures this Spring

The Young Academic Alumni Lecture Series (YAALS) concluded its twelfth season this spring with three fascinating talks. In February, Aaron Clauset (HC 2001) (pictured at right), Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, delivered his lecture, "Estimating the Historical and Future Probabilities of Large Terrorist Events," to an enthusiastic crowd of students, faculty, and staff. Clauset presented a statistical algorithm for estimating the likelihood of a 9/11-sized terrorist event. He showed that, based on historical patterns, the probability of a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 was not, in fact, statistically anomalous.

In March, Lindsey (Dolich) Felt (HC 2006), Ph.D. candidate in English at Stanford University, gave a talk titled, "Cyberpunk's Other Hackers: The Girls Who Were 'Plugged In.'" While the cyberpunk genre is often associated with the figure of the "able-bodied male hacker," Felt's talk examined the roles of "disabled" female characters in two landmark cyberpunk works: The Girl Who Was Plugged In (1973) by James Tiptree Jr. (the pen name of Alice B. Sheldon), and "The Winter Market" (1985) by William Gibson. She argued that the female characters in these stories ("the girls who were 'plugged in'") open up new questions about cyberpunk and its dominant account of disembodiment.

Rounding out the season in April, Elizabeth Molina-Markham (HC 2003), who received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, gave a talk titled, "An Ethnographic Study of Communication Practices at a Quaker Monthly Meeting." Molina-Markham presented findings from her fieldwork at a Quaker meeting in Massachusetts and provided a taxonomy of communication practices and rituals of the members and attendees. Specifically, she analyzed the function of silence in meetings for business, vocal ministry in meeting for worship, and the sharing of "spiritual journeys" as a form of teaching and learning.

The YAALS, which invites Fords who are beginning their academic careers to return to campus to speak about their work, is sponsored by the Haverford College Libraries, which partner with different academic departments for each talk. The series continues to connect the College to its alumni in academia and create rich intellectual experiences for students, faculty, staff, and the visiting alumni.

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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