Archives

Robert MacCoun ’80

Robert holds a joint appointment as a professor of law at Stanford Law School and as a senior fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Robert is a renowned psychologist and behavioral scientist who has studied illicit drug use, drug policy, alternative dispute resolution, judgment and decision making, social influence, and bias in the use and interpretation of research evidence. His analyses of military unit cohesion were cited during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” debates about inclusion of gays and lesbians in the military. Prior to his faculty appointment at Stanford Law School, he was a member of the faculties of Berkeley Law School and the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Vic Braden ’51

Vic died on October 6, 2014. He was 85 years old and arguably the most well-known graduate of Kalamazoo College. He matriculated to K from Monroe (Mich.) High School, where he had been a multi-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball, and tennis). He was the first high school tennis player to win the state singles championship three times. At K he earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and played on the Hornet men’s tennis team. He served as team captain his senior year, the same year he took the MIAA singles championship. He also was MIAA doubles champion in 1949 and 1951. After graduation he was the assistant basketball coach at the University of Toledo, and he played on the professional tennis circuit. Vic moved to California and earned his master’s degree in educational psychology (California State University). He began study for his doctorate in psychology (USC) but discontinued that work in order to become the chief tennis professional at a tennis club. It was in the teaching of tennis that Vic achieved his international renown. In 1971 he started the Vic Braden Tennis College in Coto de Caza, Calif. That effort later expanded to include campuses in Florida and Utah and traveled throughout the United States, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and China. He taught thousands of players and lectured in all 50 states. His players included champions like Tracy Austin, and yet he seemed to have a special spot in his heart for the average weekend hacker. He combined humor and psychology to make every student as proficient as she or he could be. Vic hosted a tennis instructional show on public television in the early 1980s that was carried by 238 stations. He appeared on NBC, made instructional videos, and authored eight books. The New York Times obituary (“Vic Braden, Tennis’s Pied Piper, Dies at 85,” Douglas Martin) noted that “Mr. Braden’s forte was psychology, which he thought could nearly work miracles. He told Sports Illustrated that if he were given eight good 13-year-old players–‘I don’t mean great athletes,’ he specified–he could have all of them in the Wimbledon quarterfinals at 18. Such improbable success, he said, would involve learning to think differently. ‘The moment of enlightenment,’ he said, ‘is when a person’s dreams of possibilities become images of probabilities.’” In recognition of his lifetime achievements, Vic was presented an honorary degree from his alma mater in April of 2008. He is pictured (center, in the photo at left) at that event, held in Stetson Chapel, with the late Professor and Coach Emeritus George Acker (left) and Professor of Physical Education and Volleyball Coach Jeanne Hess.

Jessica Hoffman ’13

Last October Jessica was accepted into Western Michigan University’s graduate program for counseling psychology. Jessica is a first generation college student who now is the first in her family to attend graduate school. “Her time at K was a  key chapter in this story,” wrote her friend and mentor, John Fink, professor emeritus of mathematics and computer science. At K Jessica majored in French and studied abroad in Claremont-Ferrand, France.

Allen M. Omoto ’82, Ph.D.

Allen was awarded an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation for his passionate dedication to social justice and to bringing psychological science to bear on social policy. Throughout his career, Allen has demonstrated a strong and lasting commitment to social justice and inclusion through his research, publications, teaching, mentorship and leadership. He was APA’s inaugural William A. Bailey AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow. He served on the Committee on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns, chaired the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, has served on the APA Council of Representatives and has been elected president of Div. 9 (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) and Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues). Allen has received awards for distinction in education and training (Div. 44) and service (Div. 9), as well as the Western Psychological Association’s Social Responsibility Award. Through his passion, dedication, sense of humor, and the example he sets for integrating his values into his personal and professional life, Allen inspires and leads his students and his colleagues to affect social justice through the science of psychology. He is currently a professor in the Claremont Colleges in California.

Péter Érdi, the Luce Professor of Complex Systems Studies

Péter is the co-editor of a new book titled Computational Neurology and Psychiatry. He also is the co-author—along with two K students, Takumi Matsuzawa ’16 and Tibin John ’15—of a paper included in that book. The paper is titled “Connecting Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease: Modeling of Normal and Pathological Rhythmicity and Synaptic Plasticity Related to Amyloidβ (Aβ) Effects.”

Sometimes seeing more is a matter of new ways of looking. Such “new ways of looking” include the emerging scientific fields of computational neurology and computational psychiatry. The key word is “computational.” Researchers apply math and computer science to create computer models that simulate brain structures and brain activities associated with specific disorders (epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, for example). Such simulations—and new techniques of analyzing the copious amount of data that emerges from such simulations—have the potential to reveal elements of brain structure and function associated with disease and disorders, elements that have heretofore been a mystery. In other words, these “new ways of looking” may result in seeing what’s never been seen before.

Computer modeling also offers advantages of cost and convenience compared to older ways (animal experimentation and laboratory set-up) of trying to model and see brain structure and (mal)function.

A book that pioneers these new scientific fields is exciting and important, says Péter:  “Adopting advanced computational methods such as modeling and data processing raises hopes that one day we will more effectively treat neurological and psychiatric disorders.”

In other news, Péter has been appointed Vice President for Membership of the International Neural Network Societies.

Katherine Schantz ’70

Katherine was a featured speaker at WORKTECH 15 New York, part of the international conference series exploring the latest thinking on the future of work and the workplace. Katherine is Head of School at The Lab School of Washington, a private Washington, D.C., school focusing on elementary, middle school, and high school students with dyslexia, ADHD, and other language-based learning differences. Katherine earned her B.A. in economics from K and studied education with a concentration in counseling and consulting psychology at Harvard University. She currently belongs to a consortium of heads of independent schools across the country working to develop the most effective practices and environments for students with specific learning disabilities and ADHD. Her interest and expertise is in learning from neuroscience to develop effective educational practices for students with learning disabilities and ADHD, and fostering an arts-infused educational model. She has spoken at educational and mental health conferences on topics including neuropsychology, learning strategies, executive functioning, and preparing students with learning disabilities for college.

Douglas Behrend ’81

Douglas has been appointed chair of the Department of Psychological Science at Fulbright College, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. He has been a professor at the university since 1989. His research interests include children’s word-learning, learning and sharing of privileged information, and accent preferences. He is head of the WordPlay Lab, the department’s child language and cognition laboratory, and he is the author or co-author of many scholarly articles. He has collaborated with and mentored many students and has been involved in interdisciplinary projects with colleagues in a variety of fields. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and French from Kalamazoo College and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Brandon Faber ’07

Brandon is the new director of community engagement at the Grosse Pointe (Mich.) War Memorial Association. Prior to taking this new position, Brandon was executive director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra. He earned a bachelor of arts in music and psychology from Kalamazoo College and a master of music in instrumental conducting from the Cole Conservatory of the California State University Long Beach.