News & Ideas

Newsmakers | Spring 2024

An illustration of the Earth and a cold interstellar cloud
Two to three million years ago, the Sun’s passage through a dense cold cloud, would have been dramatically compressed the heliosphere. The Earth would then have been outside its protective sac, leaving it exposed to the ISM and the contents of the cloud, including plutonium-244 and radioactive iron-60 (see Inklings). Illustration courtesy of Adam Hong/Merav Opher

The Newsmakers section of Radcliffe Magazine brings the extraordinary achievements of Radcliffe alumnae, faculty, and fellows to our readership. Please tell us about your awards, publications, and other accomplishments by e-mailing magazine@radcliffe.harvard.edu.

With her coauthor Frances M. Clarke, Rebecca Jo Plant RI ‘06 has been awarded the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the 2023 Grace Abbott Book Prize for Of Age: Boy Soldiers and Military Power in the Civil War Era (Oxford University Press, 2023). The Society for the History of Children and Youth, which administers the latter, deemed the book “masterful,” "rigorous," and “groundbreaking.”

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded its 2024 Templeton Prize to Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela BI ’99, RI ’21, an expert in trauma and forgiveness in post-apartheid South Africa. The psychologist and scholar was a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Templeton Prize is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards.

Rahul Bhatia RI ’23 won first prize in the True Story Award 2024 for his reporting in “The Trials of an Indian Witness: How a Muslim Man was caught in a Legal Nightmare,” which appeared in the Guardian. Billed as the first global journalism prize, the True Story Award recognizes outstanding journalists from around the world and elevates their work beyond their own borders.

The American Philosophical Society announced 37 new members for 2024, among them Geraldine Brooks RI '06, Michèle Lamont RI '07, and Carol J. Oja RI '17.

V. V. Ganashananthan ’02, RI ’15 has won the 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, which celebrates “celebrate creativity and excellence in fiction by women and non-binary writers in Canada and the United States,” for Brotherless Night (Penguin Random House, 2023), on which she worked during her Radcliffe fellowship. The novel is also on the shortlist for the 2024 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Established in 1996, this prize, is awarded annually to the author of the best full-length novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.

Additionally, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House, 2021), by Tiya Miles ’92, RI ’22, landed on the shortlist of the 2024 Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction, a new annual prize open to women writers around the world writing narrative nonfiction in English and publishing in the United Kingdom. 

The 2024 Guggenheim Fellows were announced this spring, and among those receiving the award were Tiya Miles ’92, RI ’22; Teri W. Odom AM ’99, PhD ’01, RI ’12; Douglas Rogers RI ’13; Tracy K. Smith ’94; Tracy R. Slatyer AM ’08, PhD ’10, RI ’25; Jonathan Sterne RI ’25Caridad Svich RI ’03; and Justin Torres RI ’13.

Javier Zamora RI ’19 is a 2024 Whiting Award winner. These prizes are awarded to emerging writers of drama, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, and Zamora—who has published a memoir and a collection of poems based on his experience coming to the United States as an unaccompanied minor—won in both nonfiction and poetry. The Whiting Foundation—which characterized Zamora as “a powerful writer, a brilliant writer, a necessary writer”—has supported 10 emerging writers each year since 1985.

The cognitive scientist Asifa Majid RI ’23 has been awarded the 2024 Jeffrey L. Elman Prize for Scientific Achievement and Community Building. The annual award, given to midcareer scientists whose work embodies both scientific excellence and community service, comes with a silver medal and cash prize.

Bina Agarwal BI ’91 was a joint recipient of the 2023 Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award for Ecological Economics. Agarwal, a professor of development economics and environment at the University of Manchester, earned the award for her contributions to the field of ecological economics, in particular her focus on “social equity and gender roles in rural societies within developing regions,” says the ISEE.

Earlier this week, Nature Astronomy published new research led by Merav Opher RI ’22, “A Possible Direct Exposure of the Earth to the Cold Dense Interstellar Medium 2–3 Myr Ago.” The paper, written with Abraham Loeb and J. E. G. Peek, introduces a discovery Opher first began thinking about during her Radcliffe fellowship year. Opher explains the discovery in this Radcliffe video.

Eddie R. Cole RI ’24 looked to the student unrest of the late 1960s in his TIME essay about the current crisis on college campuses, “Instead of Calling in Law Enforcement to Deal With Protesters, College Presidents Could Have Followed This Example.”

What if Congress hadn’t canceled a HUD initiative to industrialize housing in the United States? Francesca Mari ’07, RI ’23 flew to Sweden to see modular housing in action for the New York Times article “How an American Dream of Housing Became a Reality in Sweden.”

In “Book Bans Are Surging in Florida. So Lauren Groff Opened a Bookstore,” the New York Times reported on the opening of The Lynx, a new bookstore opened by the best-selling novelist Lauren Groff RI ’19 and her husband in their hometown of Gainesville. “Banned titles are prominently placed at The Lynx,” reported the newspaper. “A large display near the front of the store features frequently challenged books across the United States.” Groff is the second writer and Radcliffe alumna to open a bookstore; the first was Ann Patchett BI ’94, who runs Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Boston Globe caught up with the novelist Min Jin Lee RI ’19 in a Q and A, in which she talked about her book in progress, her Radcliffe fellowship project. “I want to understand how American thinking and education is being exported to Korea and vice versa. We’re changing each other,” said Lee in the interview. Last month, Lee delivered a Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Celebrity Lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition Hallyu! The Korean Wave.

The TIME 100 list of most influential people of the year included some familiar names, among them the novelist Lauren Groff RI ’19, whose testimonial essay was written by Ann Patchett BI ’94, and the astronomer Priyamvada Natarajan RI ’09. Ophelia Dahl, who was the 2023 Radcliffe Medalist, also appeared on the list, with an essay by the novelist John Green, her personal friend and conversant at Rad Day 23.

Gish Jen ’77, BI ’87, RI ’02 published a New York Times opinion piece titled “This Isn’t the China I Remember,” in which she details the changes she’s observed among the country’s most cosmopolitan residents. “People in Shanghai are simply, as they put it, ‘xin lei,’” she writes. “Their hearts are tired.”

The medical historians Joelle M. Abi-Rached PhD ’17, RI ’24 and Allan Brandt RI ’20 published “Nazism and the Journal,” which examines the New England Journal of Medicine’s historical silence about Nazi atrocities. Between 1935 and 1944, they write, “when Nazi war crimes were first explicitly acknowledged in an editorial, the Journal remained all but silent regarding the deeply antisemitic and racist motives of Nazi science and medicine.” The New York Times also reported on their findings.

In “Her Art Is at Odds With Museums, and Museums Can’t Get Enough,” the New York Times profiles Gala Porras-Kim RI ’20, characterizing her as “an interdisciplinary artist who often questions how museums collect material from previous civilizations.” The article mentions the work she began at Radcliffe as Precipitations for an Arid Landscape.

Both the Boston Globe and the New York Times featured articles about Candida Royalle, the subject of the latest biography by Jane Kamensky BI ’97, RI ’07. Kamensky researched Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below (W. W. Norton, 2024) at the Schlesinger during her tenure as the Library’s faculty director. In “The Woman Who Tried to Make Porn Safe for Feminism,” in the New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler introduces Royalle, details how her papers came to the Schlesinger, and explains the collection’s importance to the Library.

Donna L. Maney RI ’24, a neuroscientist, coedited a special issue of Hormones and Behavior, Sex/Gender Diversity and Behavioral Neuroendocrinology in the 21st Century, which will publish in July. She was also a coauthor of “Sex Contextualism in Laboratory Research: Enhancing Rigor and Precision in the Study of Sex-Related Variables,” which appeared in Cell.

The Washington Post published an obituary for Marnia Lazreg BI ’86, who died in January at age 83. Lazreg’s books and lectures over five decades covered history, religious expression and ways that power is wielded—politically, culturally and intellectually,” says the article. “She ranked among the most respected academic voices on women’s affairs in North Africa and helped expand Arab viewpoints in Western feminist scholarship.”

Books by Anne Higonnet ’80, RI ’20, Debra Spark BI ’93, and Clara Bingham ’85.

In Adoption Memoirs: Inside Stories (Temple University Press, 2024), Marianne Novy AM ’67 looks to 45 mostly 21st-century memoirs—from adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive parents alike—to paint a fuller picture of the adoption experience. Earlier this year, Publishers Weekly included it in their roundup. “4 New Books Examine Adoption, Foster Care, and the Child Welfare System.” Novy, a professor emerita of English and gender, sexuality, and gender studies at the University of Pittsburgh (and herself an adoptee), has published two previous books about adoption.

Claire Messud RI ’05 took her own family history as inspiration for her latest novel, This Strange Eventful History (W. W. Norton, 2024)—specifically, a family history written by her grandfather. “Messud has used that document to craft something more interesting than a historical novel: a novel about history and the stories we tell ourselves about the role we play in it,” said the New Yorker in a review.

Liberty Equality Fashion: The Women Who Styled the French Revolution (W. W. Norton, 2024), on which Anne Higonnet ’80, RI ’20 worked during her fellowship year, has been published. Kirkus Reviews gave the group history of the 18th-century French stylemakers known as the “Three Graces” its starred treatment, saying, “Higonnet demonstrates her meticulous research in energetic prose that vibrantly captures the lives of these three revolutionary champions of chic European finery and women’s liberation.”

The anthropologist Ieva Jusionyte RI ’23 has published the book that was her Radcliffe project, Exit Wounds: How America’s Guns Fuel Violence across the Border (University of California Press, 2024), about gun trafficking at the US–Mexico border. Francisco Goldman RI ’19, a writer of fiction and nonfiction, praised Jusionyte, saying, “She writes with Didion-like poise, observational power, precision, and intelligence.” (See book reviews.)

Baby Schema (Carcanet Poetry, 2024), the poetry collection on which Isabel Galleymore RI ’23 worked at the Institute, hit UK bookshelves in March. “These are ingenious and playful poems, delightful and disturbing,” said the Sunday Times in a review. (See book reviews.)

Jane Kamensky BI ’97, RI ’07 has published the biography Candida Royalle and the Sexual Revolution: A History from Below (W. W. Norton, 2024), researched at the Schlesinger Library, which Kamensky used to direct. A Boston Globe review says, “Kamensky’s account of Royalle’s childhood, in New York City and environs, is especially riveting.”

Discipline (Four Way Books, 2024) is the sixth novel from Debra Spark BI ’93. Kirkus Reviews declared it “lively fiction from a fine Maine novelist, one who deserves more attention.”

In Sorry for the Inconvenience but This Is an Emergency: The Nonviolent Struggle for Our Planet’s Future (Hurst, 2024), by Lynne Jones RI ’11—a doctor and aid worker—mines recent UK climate protests and her own involvement in the movement to examine nonviolent activism for social and climate justice. (See book reviews.)

Margot Livesey RI ’13 was inspired by her mother’s story for her latest novel, The Road from Belhaven (Knopf, 2024). Said the Washington Post in a review, “Livesey’s piercing and eloquent novel manages to convey the wonderful mysteries that life offers.”

Biological Motion: A History of Life (Princeton University Press, 2024), by Janina Wellmann RI ’18, examines the relationship between motion and life. Wellmann, who worked on the book during her Radcliffe fellowship, appeared on the podcast Against Everyone with Conner Habib to discuss the “mystery of motion, movement, and stillness.”

Clara Bingham ’85—a journalist and author whose work focuses on social justice and women’s issues—will soon publish The Movement: How Women’s Liberation Transformed America 1963–1973 (Simon & Schuster, 2024), a history of the early years of second wave feminism. Kirkus Reviews has already deemed it a “vivid contribution to women’s history.”

Installation view, Gala Porras-Kim: A Hand In Nature, Museum Of Contemporary Art Denver, March 8, 2024–September 1, 2024. Photo by Wes Magyar

Kapwani Kiwanga RI ’23 is representing Canada at the Biennale di Venezia through November 24, 2024. ARTnews covered the exhibition in “For the Canadian Pavilion, Kapwani Kiwanga Considers the Hefty Historical Importance of the Tiny Venetian Seed Bead.”

Gala Porras-Kim RI ’20 has a solo exhibition at MCA Denver. Gala Porras-Kim: A Hand in Nature, on view through September 1, 2024, focuses on the natural world and the lived environment and includes a sculpture made with copal resin much like the one she showed at Radcliffe.

Clarissa Tossin RI ’18 is among the 71 artists and collectives included in the Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better than the Real Thing, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She contributed a film, shot partly in Guatemala and titled Mojo’q che b’ixan ri ixkanulab’/Antes de que los volcanes canten/Before the Volcanoes Sing (2022), that appears alongside 3D-printed replicas of pre-Columbian Maya wind instruments. Michelle Agnes Magalhaes ’18 composed the score for Tossin's film and appeared with other collaborators on an online panel about the work. The exhibition is on view through August 11, 2024.

The filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Ja’Tovia Gary RI ’19 joined the qigong practitioner and healer Baba Kevin Greene for a one-hour experience centered on the safety and bodily autonomy of Black women at the Museum of Modern Art. The event took place in late April within Gary’s installation The Giverny Suite, which is on view through the fall.

This spring, Catherine Bertulli BI ’83 was included in Reshaping Abstraction, a group show at Concord Center for the Visual Arts. She also participated in an artist panel that took place on April 18.

Susanne Kühn RI ’02 published an artist’s monograph, Proliferation – Vasa, Auginella and Other Sprouts (Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2024), billed as an extension to her exhibition of the same name.

The composer Camilo Méndez RI ’18 released his first monographic album, titled Peripheral Spaces (NEOS Music, 2023). It contains six chamber works performed by Vertixe Sonora Ensemble. Méndez is an assistant professor of music at Hong Kong Baptist University.

The cast of Toni Stone, directed by Lydia R. Diamond and on stage at the Huntington Theatre on May 17–June 16. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Shaina Taub, whose Broadway musical Suffs was inspired by Alice Paul and researched in part at the Schlesinger Library, walked away from the 77th Annual Tony Awards with two wins: Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. Radcliffe hosted a preview of the winning musical, then under the working title The Suffragists, as part of the Library’s 75th anniversary celebration. Taub also plays Paul in the production.

Toni Stone, a play by Lydia R. Diamond RI ’13 based on the biography Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League (Lawrence Hill Books, 2010), by Martha Ackman RI ’09, is on stage at the Huntington, in Boston, through June 16. CityLine, on WCVB5, aired a story, “The Female Jackie Robinson,” about the play.

Matthieu Aikins RI ’24 is adapting his book The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees (Harper Perennial, 2023) for the big screen. The book chronicles a journey Aikins undertook in 2016 with his friend Omar, an Afghan driver and translator, as he escapes his war-torn home country for Europe. The rights to the story have been secured by the newly created production company Optimistic Pictures

Project CETI—launched by the marine biologist David Gruber RI ’18 with the computer scientists Michael Bronstein RI ’18 and Shafi Goldwasser RI ’18 during their fellowship year to apply machine learning to the study of sperm whale communication—has partnered with the perfumer D.S. & Durga on a fragrance called Let's Dive. Through this creative collaboration, which incorporates synthesized ambergris—a strongly scented wax-like secretion made by sperm whales—as one of its base notes, they hope to bring the mission of their project to new audiences.

Wendy Cadge RI ’09 has been elected president of Bryn Mawr College, a post she will assume on July 1. A sociologist, Cadge has most recently served at Brandeis University as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanistic Social Sciences.

This spring, Joelle M. Abi-Rached PhD ’17, RI ’24 launched a podcast, Mental Health in Crisis, which she developed with the help of her Radcliffe Research Partner, Alexandre Benoit ’26. In its first episode, the podcast—which will focus on issues around the global mental health crisis—explored gender-based violence with the groundbreaking psychiatrist Judith L. Herman ’64, MD ’68, BI ’85, RI ’02, who recently published Truth and Repair: How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice (Basic Books, 2023). (Both women are experts in trauma studies.)

CBC Radio’s Ideas featured a talk by and interview with Tiya Miles ’92, RI ’22, RI ’24, a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor and Harvard historian, in “How the Outdoors Has Inspired Women to Become Trailblazers.” In the program, Miles discusses her two most recent books and the potential of material culture as an archive.

The economist and Nobel Prize winner Claudia Goldin RI ’06 appeared on NPR’s news quiz Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, in which she competed on the segment “Not My Job.”

Private planes—882 of them—flocked to Las Vegas in February for this year’s Super Bowl. Jennie C. Stephens ’97, RI ’24 joined a panel of experts on the podcast 1A to talk about the climate impact of the (private) jet set in the episode “The High-Carbon Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Eddie R. Cole RI ’24 appeared on the MSNBC podcast Into America. In the episode “Ripples of Affirmative Inaction in California,” which looked analyzed the ramifications of the state’s ban on affirmative action 30 years ago, he provided context for what the recent Supreme Court decision could bring nationally.

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