All Research, All the Time

Microscopic image of Daphnia PulexNeuroscientist and J. Warren Merrill Professor of Biology Andrea Tilden is continuing her bioinformatics research during her sabbatical year as a visiting scientist at MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Tilden has been conducting research at MDIBL for more than 20 years, both for her own research and guiding student researchers from Colby. She uses computational biology to study the evolution of genomes, gleaning insights from a water flea, Daphnia Pulex, that have implications for human physiology.

“Look at it for what it is and then … see how far
we’ve come and how much we have yet to learn.”

—Namita Bhattacharya ’19, in the Boston Globe, commenting on the College’s decision to rename the president’s residence Osborne House in honor the Osborne family, who had been enslaved and came to Waterville after the Civil War and was Colby’s janitor for 37 years. His daughter Marion was Colby’s first African-American graduate, in 1900.

Jinyan Zeng, the 2017 Oak Human Rights Fellow

Jinyan Zeng, the 2017 Oak Human Rights Fellow and a Chinese filmmaker, activist, and scholar, recently interviewed acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Here is an excerpt:

Zeng: I often see you speak up about various human rights issues around the world, a recent example of which being your new film Human Flow and related projects. In my understanding, you have become a powerful speaker for global social injustice. Would you say that you are building your own version of global citizenship?

Ai Weiwei: For more than a year, I have mainly been studying refugee problems, and a key product of this research is the documentary film Human Flow. This large-scale documentary gave me an opportunity to visit various regions around the world and learn about complex human rights conditions as well as different understandings of human dignity. Whether it was in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or Europe, I should say that, in recent years, the understanding of human rights and basic human dignity was rather disappointing.

Read the interview at


Work gloves

The number of tons of trash removed from Waterville’s South End Oct. 21 by Colby and community volunteers. About 100 students and staff and 20 community members joined forces for the clean-up effort.


Groups of Matrices That Act Monopotently

No, it’s not the storyline of a new sci-fi film. It’s the title of an article published in December in Electronic Journal of Linear Algebra by Joshua Hews ’17 and Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Leo Livshits. Hews and Livshits worked on the project during the summer after Hews’s junior year. He’s now in a graduate program in mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Free speech: where does Colby Stand?

Professors Cheryl Townsend Gilkes and Joseph Reisert were tapped by President David A. Greene to head a review of College policies aimed at supporting Colby’s commitment to free expression, including protest and dissent. Gilkes and Reisert are co-chairs of the newly formed Presidential Task Force on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, which includes a dozen other faculty, staff, and students.

“The sloppy application of scientific knowledge to further white supremacy has a long history in the U.S.”

—Assistant Professor of English Aaron Hanlon in an essay on NBC News’s digital platform “Think.” Hanlon delves into recent disputes between science and identity politics, as evidenced by “the Google memo,” in which a Google engineer argued that women are underrepresented in the tech industry because of biological differences between men and women.

More: Hanlon Writes Piece on Identity Politics for NBC News “Think”

Members of the women’s rugby club in a scrum versus Vassar College in the second round of the USA Rugby Division II Fall Championships in Kutztown, Pa.

Best Ever: Members of the women’s rugby club in a scrum versus Vassar College in the second round of the USA Rugby Division II Fall Championships in Kutztown, Pa. The Mules defeated the University of New Hampshire in the first round before falling to the strong Vassar team, an eventual finalist, 25-5. It was the best season in club history as Colby finished as one of the top 16 teams in the country.

Campus Nightlife

Survey camera image of fisherSurvey camera image of foxSurvey camera image of racoon

For two weeks in October, students in Professor of Biology Catherine Bevier’s Vertebrate Natural History course baited camera traps fastened to trees to survey mammal diversity in Perkins Arboretum. They came up with plenty.

In addition to gray squirrels, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, and raccoons, the students came away with some medium-sized carnivores that hunt Mayflower Hill under the cover of darkness. Of particular interest, Bevier reported, are the fisher, Pekania pennant (left), and gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus (center). The gray fox expanded its range into the Northeast relatively recently and is the only canid that climbs trees.

The fisher is more closely related to weasels in the family Mustelidae, according to Bevier. Although it can climb trees, on Mayflower Hill and elsewhere it usually hunts on the ground and is one of the few predators of the porcupine.

War Crimes

The focus of the work of Syrian photojournalist Bassam Khabieh, the 2018 Oak Human Rights Fellow at Colby. Khabieh, a freelance photographer, has documented the Syrian conflict. In the process, he has survived chemical attacks, airstrikes, car explosions, and cluster bombs. He has been injured numerous times and even lost his eyesight for a period of time. Khabieh is expected to arrive at Colby in August.


The number of bricks to be used in construction of Colby’s mixed-used retail, civic, and residential development at 150 Main St. in Waterville. As 2017 came to a close, more than 21,000 bricks had already been laid as the walls of the building were closed in and windows were installed. The complex will be home to 200 students, staff, and faculty beginning in the fall.


The number of national media outlets, including the PBS NewsHour and PRI’s The World, that tapped the expertise of Assistant Professor of Government Laura Seay over a period of four days in October. Seay, an expert on African politics and conflict in Central Africa, was commenting on the Oct. 4 attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers.


Star power

Elizabeth McGrath, the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dale Kocevski are getting an early shot at the new James Webb Space Telescope, NASA announced. McGrath and Kocevski are on a team of researchers that will undertake one of the 13 projects to use the $8-billion orbiting tennis-court-sized telescope during its first five months of operation. “We’ll be pushing back to the earliest galaxies that formed our universe,” Kocevski said. The pair studies the evolution of galaxies, including some that existed just 200 million years after the Big Bang.

Google that Bird!

Google Street View of Mayflower Hill Drive with bird caught in flight

The Google Street View images of the Colby campus include a photo of this chickadee, snapped as it was about to cross Mayflower Hill Drive. The chickadee was coming from the direction of Perkins Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary, which is home to more than 20 different bird species.

Protest revisited

Sylvia Jenkins ’72 is wrapped in the American flag as she marches with other protesters from Mayflower Hill to downtown Waterville in May 1970. The image was prominently featured in the Ken Burns documentary The Vietnam War, which aired in September. The march was called after Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four students in what became known as “the Kent State Massacre.”

Piggy bank


Or less. That’s the household income of parents or guardians who will have no financial obligation under a new financial aid policy that goes into effect for incoming students this fall.