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Swarthmore in the NewsAugust 26, 2011


The Star-Ledger (NJ)

Design for every day Montclair-raised Joey Roth turns mundane objects into sculpture

Meredith Galante, Star-Ledger Staff

August 25, 2011

...Joey Roth and his parents would take the train from their Montclair home into New York City often, to visit his grandparents in Chinatown. His fascination with tea, and the process of making it, was born there, and never really left him.

Now, as an adult, Roth has turned that fascination into a career. Only 27 years old, Roth has launched his own industrial design firm, a company that initially had just one product -- a teapot.

Recently named one of the best new products of the year at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, Roth's pot is nothing like that old kettle lurking on the back of your stovetop.

Initially created as part of a design portfolio Roth made for an internship in 2008, Roth's teapot is flipped on its side; the glass tube of his pot lies horizontally. (Typically, a glass pot is based on a vertical cannister.) The tube, made of borosilicate glass (aka Pyrex), is transparent, allowing the drinker to watch the leaves steep. Roth calls his design the Sorapot.

...Roth describes himself as designing "products to articulate the beauty of everyday rituals." Owning and running the Joey Roth Design Studio -- which now offers a few more products, albeit a very few -- is the only job he's had since he left college. (He studied industrial design theory at Swarthmore , graduating in 2006.)

On his website,, he sells his Sorapot ($200 to $250), and has added a few other products since he opened shop.

But they are very particular products. His speakers for iPods and laptops ($495), made from porcelain, birch plywood and cork -- no metal except in an optional stainless steel amplifier, no plastic at all -- drew raves from both music technology nuts at ("unencumbered, beautiful sound") and style mavens at GQ's British ("the world's first heirloom speakers") and French ("Extraordinaire") editions. The unusual materials are "acoustically dead," so as not to interfere with the sound of the music being played.

...More products are on the way. A felt computer mouse -- its layers of contrasting-color fabric form a brick that molds to the shape of the user's hand over months of use -- should be out for Christmas. He has also designed a whisk that looks like a streamlined, space-aged hand bell, and a sleekly industrial suitcase made of metal and wood.

...If Roth has it his way, he'll keep "hustling" until this Jersey boy has changed the face of contemporary design.  

Targeted News Service

Hendrix College among Nation's Top Ph.D. Producers

August 24, 2011

According to U.S. government data collected on bachelor degree recipients in the U.S. between 1995 and 2004, Hendrix College ranks among the top 40 American colleges and universities in the number of students per capita who go on to earn doctoral degrees.

Other top Ph.D.-producing institutions include: California Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, Swarthmore College, Reed College, Carleton College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grinnell College, Oberlin College, Bryn Mawr College, and Harvard University.

Who's That Guy: Stephen Lang

By Nina Hammerling Smith

August 23, 2011

There are those movie stars whose names evoke any number of signature roles. And then there are those whose faces you recognize, but you're not sure where from. They may not be household names, but they give the kind of performances that stay with you.

Stephen Lang is one of those guys. His performance as fearsome warlord Khalar Zym in the Jason Momoa retelling of Conan the Barbarian is one of the highlights of the movie. And Conan isn't the first time he's played a scene-stealing villain. Here are the vital details about one of the best actors whose name you probably don't recognize--yet.

...What You Need to Know: The 59-year-old Lang is a theater vet; he was co-artistic director of the Actors Studio for a stretch and has spent much of his career performing onstage. His work includes originating the Colonel Jessep role in A Few Good Men (played by "you can't handle the truth" Jack Nicholson in the movie); a Tony-nominated performance as a homeless man in The Speed of Darkness; and his self-penned military-themed one-man show Beyond Glory.

Lang is the son of renowned philanthropist Eugene Lang (for whom a college is named at the New School University in Manhattan). A graduate of Swarthmore College, where he majored in English Literature, Lang had been married for more than 30 years (to the same woman) and has four kids.

What's Next: Lang stars in the highly anticipated new fall scifi TV series Terra Nova, followed by a number of upcoming films.


Targeted News Service

SLU Math Prof Wins National Award for Teaching

August 22, 2011

St. Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Mathematics Sam Vandervelde has won a 2011 Henry L. Alder Award, for distinguished teaching by a beginning college or university mathematics faculty member. The award is given by the Mathematical Association of America.

A faculty member at St. Lawrence since 2007, Vandervelde was cited as an imaginative and creative teacher whose impact on colleagues and students goes far beyond the University. His students praise him for his passion for mathematics; his use of puzzles and problems to encourage deeper thinking; and his ability to engage his students in research. Students in his number-theory class published a collection of their papers in a class-designed journal, and students in his recent senior seminar all presented papers at conferences. Vandervelde's colleagues note the dramatic impact he has had on the mathematics program.

...Vandervelde is a graduate of Swarthmore, with a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.


The Seattle Times

From Microsoft to Africa, a university built from the ground up

It took a bit longer than expected, but the university in Ghana started a decade ago by a visionary Microsoft engineer finally has its own campus.

By Brier Dudley

August 21, 2011

It took a bit longer than expected, but the university in Ghana started a decade ago by a visionary Microsoft engineer finally has its own campus.

Ashesi University is moving from rented space in the city of Accra to a 100-acre suburban campus formally opening Saturday.

A contingent of supporters from the U.S. - many with Microsoft ties - will join ambassadors, Ghanaian officials and village chiefs for the opening.

Several said the campus is much more than a collection of new buildings for the school. It represents the vision and commitment of Patrick Awuah, who left the security of a job writing software in Redmond to pursue a crazy dream building a university in his homeland.

Awuah, 46, wasn't one of the Microsoft stock-option jillionaires. He was just an engineer in his 30s with an audacious idea he left to pursue in 1997.

Awuah's goal was to offer Ivy League-caliber education in Africa, to create ethical, broad-minded leaders who would go on to elevate the continent.

That started happening even before ground was broken on the campus, where the first students began moving into dorms last week.

Ashesi began offering classes in 2002, and enrollment has grown from 30 to about 500. Most graduates have stayed in Africa and all have jobs in fields such as finance, technology and education.

...Plans aren't final yet, but Ashesi is likely to begin offering new majors in engineering and science - in addition to the current, four-year degrees in computer science, business administration and management information systems.

Ashesi already has been working on curriculum with Awuah's alma mater, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He arrived there from Ghana with a scholarship and was hired by Microsoft after he graduated.

..."Ashesi's unique in that it takes an extremely bold vision and courage to say, 'I'm going to start a new university in a developing country from the ground up,' " Murray said. "The common response to that would be, 'You're  nuts' or, 'You're crazy.' "

..."Not only are you going to help individuals, it's going to help the entire country," he said. "The proof is in the pudding - the goal and the dream was that these students would get great educations and then stay in country, and that is proving to be what's happening."

The campus will keep growing. It can now accommodate 550, with room for most in its dorms, but there's space for 2,000 students eventually.

...Awuah said he's especially pleased that alumni, students and faculty contributed to the school's permanent home.

"I can feel it when the staff sees the donor wall. The pride they have is phenomenal," he said. "It feels great."


The Philadelphia Inquirer

Bloomin' data;
Study says region's native plants are flowering earlier. Gardeners concur.

By Virginia A. Smith; Inquirer Staff Writer

August 21, 2011

...Zoe Panchen, a June graduate of the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture at the University of Delaware, spent the last two years researching 150 years of plant and climate records in the Philadelphia area for her master's degree thesis.

She found a direct correlation between warming trends and earlier spring flowering of the region's native flora - plants such as bloodroot and yellow trout lily, trees such as pagoda dogwood, tulip, and serviceberry.

In other words, the warmer it has gotten over time, the earlier the flowers have bloomed - an average of one day earlier per decade, for a total of about two weeks earlier than in 1860.

...Panchen's findings are part of a new exhibit and cellphone "tour" at the entrance to the meadow at Longwood Gardens, the 1,077-acre public garden near Kennett Square.

...That change doesn't stop at earlier bloom times. It also affects plant pests, disease, diversity, and invasiveness in landscapes large and small.

...Panchen examined historical climate data from NOAA. She examined pressed-plant collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Swarthmore College, and West Chester University. She visited the venerable Philadelphia Botanical Club and studied old photographs of spring bloomers. ...


The Santa Fe New Mexican

Palm Trees Or Ivy?;
From East to West, One Teen Tours the Country's Top Colleges

By Ansel Carpenter

August 19, 2011

Generation Next

For me and other high school students who will graduate next year, the time for college applications draws near. As this time approaches, there are many questions I have to answer regarding my ideal college.

One pivotal question is: Ivy or palm trees? That is, East or West Coast?

In preparation for applications, and in order to figure out where I want to spend the next four years studying journalism, I toured East Coast schools during spring break and took to the West Coast this summer.

...Looking back after visiting these East Coast schools, I can definitely say two things about them: First, they have world-class faculty and an endless array of academic and extracurricular opportunities. Second, admission is very competitive. Students should start planning in middle school.

...Stanford University is probably the most well-known school in California. Stanford, in my opinion, wins the most beautiful campus award.

There are, of course, beautiful campuses in New England, including Princeton University. Another is Swarthmore College in semi-rural Pennsylvania. Swarthmore is not only beautiful, it also embraces new ideas. Everything from its manner of assigning roommates (a multi-tiered process where students are grouped based on traits) to its windows, which, by way of movement sensors, turn opaque whenever a bird flies near so that it won't crash, is innovative.

...The decision between ivy and palm trees is deeper than climate and scenery. The East and the West are separated by cultural differences, and any decision by a student in New Mexico should be informed by those differences. We must not only ask, "mountains or ocean?," "city or country?," "rain or sun?" We must ask where we would fit, and where would fit us.

We must ask which place would make us the happiest, the most fulfilled. The question becomes much bigger than any one factor. For now, I'm thinking that my fit might be palm trees.