Williams students are learning core investment management concepts and getting hands-on work experience in the field, thanks to Girls Who Invest.


Girls Who Invest

By Julia Munemo

Two Williams sophomores participated in the inaugural summer of Girls Who Invest, a program providing young women with the chance to learn core investment management concepts and get hands-on work experience in the field. Sarah Hollinger ’19 and Isabella Wang ’19 were among the 30 students from around the country accepted into the program, which started out in classrooms at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in late May.

Founded by Seema Hingorani, former chief investment officer for the New York City Retirement Systems, Girls Who Invest seeks to increase “the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry,” according to the organization’s website. “Our benchmark for success is to have 30 percent of the world’s investable capital managed by women by 2030.” Women currently manage less than 10 percent of the world’s investable capital.

Participants spent the month of June in the classroom with some of the top business faculty in the country. Each day during lunchtime, a different industry member came to speak to the group about her experiences. Wang says the speakers helped the young women contextualize the culture. “They spoke about the obstacles they face as women in the investment world but also about the fact that there is a community out there for us to join,” she says.

At the end of the month, the students were placed in six-week paid internships at investment firms all over the country. Wang went to Seattle to work at BMGI, and Hollinger went to Bloomberg in New York, where she worked in the trading solutions department.

“There’s an idea that investing isn’t noble work or that it doesn’t benefit people’s lives,” says Hollinger, who plans to double major in economics and environmental studies. “But we learned a lot about how investment management affects the infrastructure that gets created, and how that impacts people’s lives.”

Hollinger says Girls Who Invest helped give her the tools she’ll need to enter the industry after graduation. She hopes to go into sustainable investment work in the future, because, she says, “Our generation is going to have to deal with the damage to our environment. Investing as an industry is one of the vehicles we can utilize to improve the way we treat the earth.”

Collette Chilton, the college’s chief investment officer, says Williams students are uniquely qualified to succeed in investment management, and she hopes more women will apply for the program next year.

“Girls Who Invest offers the training our students need to read financial statements and complete analyses and build models,” Chilton says. “But when it comes to putting the numbers together and weaving a story—which is what investment management is all about—they are well suited to fit the pieces together because at Williams they’ve learned to think critically.”

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Music major Jordan LaMothe ’17 is passionate about his craft—whether he’s performing with one of many ensembles or working on scientific equipment in the machine shop.


I Am Williams Voices: Jordan LaMothe ’17

Music major Jordan LaMothe ’17 is passionate about his craft—whether he’s performing with one of many ensembles or working on scientific equipment in the machine shop.

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Physics Professor Protik "Tiku" Majumder Receives American Physical Society Research Award


Williams College Physics Professor Wins Prize for Undergraduate Research

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: Noelle.Lemoine@williams.edu

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 11, 2016—Protik “Tiku” Majumder, professor of physics and director of the Williams Science Center, has been awarded the 2017 American Physical Society (APS) Prize for a Faculty Member for Research at an Undergraduate Institution.

tikum_gridimage_01The prize honors a physicist whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to the professional development of physics students. Majumder is being recognized for the contributions of his research and for his “sustained, inspirational mentorship of undergraduate researchers.”

“I am honored to receive this award, and I thank my department for nominating me,” Majumder said. “The success of my research program at Williams owes a lot to this institution—which values and supports ambitious research goals—as well as to the many colleagues who set such high standards as teacher/scholars and, perhaps most of all, to the amazing undergraduates who have been my partners in the lab.”

In his laboratory, Majumder and his students pursue precise measurements of atomic structure in Group IIIA atoms. Majumder’s lab has produced two student winners of the APS’ LeRoy Apker Award, the nation’s top prize for undergraduate research in physics.

“We are all thrilled to see Tiku receive this well-deserved recognition,” said David Tucker-Smith, professor and chair of the physics department. “On top of being an accomplished experimental atomic physicist, highly regarded in his field, Tiku continues to be an outstanding mentor of research students. His record of impacting the many Williams students who have worked with him in significant and long-lasting ways really is remarkable.”

Majumder is the third Williams physics professor to win the prize, which comes with a $5,000 award for the recipient and $5,000 for the recipient’s institution. Stuart Crampton, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy, Emeritus, received the award in 1989, and Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy Professor William Wootters received it in 2007.

“I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to introduce many Williams students to research, and then watch them grow into junior colleagues who have helped guide our work forward,” Majumder said. “We’ve puzzled through experimental challenges together, charted our way from experimental design to data analysis, attended conferences, and co-authored papers together. It’s been particularly rewarding to work with students so closely here, and then continue to connect with many who are now grad students, postdocs, and career scientists around the country.”

Majumder has been teaching at Williams since 1994 and has taught courses throughout the physics curriculum, including Introductory Quantum Physics; Sound, Light, and Perception; and Electricity and Magnetism. He received his B.S. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before coming to Williams he held postdoctoral research associate and research assistant professor positions at the University of Washington. Since 1998, he has received over $1.5 million in funding from the National Science Foundation for his research. In addition to his teaching and research activities, Majumder has served as the Director of the Science Center at Williams for the past six years.

The APS is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics throughout its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 51,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the U.S. and throughout the world.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.


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Enjoy this video from Mountain Day!


Sights and Sounds of Mountain Day 2016

Enjoy this video from Mountain Day!

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Claudia Rankine '86—poet, professor, and Williams Bicentennial Medalist—has been named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow


Claudia Rankine '86 Named 2016 MacArthur Fellow

Watch a MacArthur Foundation video about Rankine and read her bio on the organization’s website. You can also read her interview with TIME magazine:

Claudia Rankine: Society Is ‘in a State of Emergency’: The poet and newly minted MacArthur genius has plans for a “Racial Imaginary Institute”

Claudia Rankine has been named to the 2016 class of MacArthur fellows—or as they’re commonly known, geniuses. It’s an award that comes with great respect and a big payout—$625,000 paid over five years. But for the author of Citizen: An American Lyric, the honor feels like it’s as much for herself as it is for her subject: race relations in America. TIME caught up with Rankine ahead of the announcement to talk about a new round of officer-involved shootings, Colin Kaepernick and the rhetoric of the 2016 election cycle.

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Assistant professor of mathematics Julie Blackwood and fellow researchers are using math to improve the health of coral reefs


The Mathematics of Coral Reef Health

Photo by Elizabeth Sherman

By Julia Munemo

A group of undergraduate researchers in Williams’ SMALL Program—which brings to campus students from colleges across the country for a residential summer program in mathematics—is helping to improve the health of coral reefs.

They worked with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Julie Blackwood, who is collaborating with a biologist and an applied mathematician from Bennington College, to determine what contributes to the deterioration of coral reefs in the Cayman Islands.

Coral reefs host thousands of species of fish and other animals and contribute to the biodiversity and health of marine ecosystems in the tropics and around the world. In 1983, a disease wiped out the sea urchin population throughout the Caribbean—and coral reefs were badly affected.

“Because sea urchins grazed on the algae that grows on top of coral reefs, when they were gone the reefs became overgrown,” Blackwood says. An applied mathematician who uses math to further research in ecology and biology, Blackwood’s role on the team is to better understand the dynamical consequences of scenarios designed to free the reefs of this overgrowth of macroalgae. She does so through mathematical modeling.

One of the questions Blackwood and her Bennington colleagues are asking is about the right conditions in which to reintroduce sea urchins. That’s where the SMALL students came in. Williams student Eliza Matt ’18 helped develop spatial models that capture sea urchin’s reproductive patterns and movement as a first step in designing sea urchin reintroductions to the region. Another question asks what other potential grazers might make a difference and under what circumstances.

In each scenario, there are interactions and processes that Blackwood’s models help illuminate. “As new information comes in from the field, we adjust and refine the models,” Blackwood says. “In turn, model analysis helps inform field research decisions. It’s a continuous cycle.”

Another of Blackwood’s SMALL students—Colin Okasaki, a senior at Harvey Mudd College—uncovered a possibility that the team hadn’t considered: “Sea sponges,” Blackwood says, “which have long been overlooked as important grazers.”

Based on the literature Okasaki reviewed, Blackwood and a group of SMALL students spent the summer learning everything they could about sponges: how they behave, what they eat, and what role they might play in the preservation of coral reefs. They started to build models—work that Blackwood will continue in the coming academic year—that help inform the work going on in the field.

Another team of SMALL students worked with Blackwood to build and analyze mathematical models of the Zika virus. Their goal was to understand the differences between sexual and vector-borne transmission of the virus.

“As an applied mathematician whose work is very interdisciplinary, I have worked with researchers in a variety of fields,” says Blackwood. “SMALL allows me to introduce undergraduates to that research, and together we draw ideas and methods from different fields to help create new approaches to complex problems.”

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Teach It Forward

The Campaign for Williams


Teach It Forward

Enjoy a collection of Teach It Forward talks and videos from our first year of campaign events. The $650 million comprehensive campaign launched in fall 2015.

Visit the Williams Campaign website.

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