sadface

Emory pediatrics researcher Shannon Gourley received a Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) this year from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the brain mechanisms involved in adolescent depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website, the grant provides $1.6 million to early-stage investigators over the course of five years.

Gourley’s research focuses on the adolescent brain and its response to stressors, which often carry long-term consequences for people into adulthood and are a predictive factor for depression.

“If we have a better understanding at a basic biological level of what’s happening in the adolescent brain in response to stressor exposure, we can ultimately use that information to develop novel treatment strategies in the future,” Gourley said.

The NIMH website states that the BRAINS award was established to counteract the trend of researchers under 35 receiving little to no funding awards. The BRAINS award seeks to engage this new generation with “new approaches to research support.” Since 2009, NIH has awarded the grant to 38 researchers.

According to NIMH, about 11 percent of adolescents develop a depressive disorder by age 18. The NIMH website states that depression in adolescents is more prevalent in girls than boys.

Gourley said that young women who report stressor-related depression note that social factors like bullying or social exclusion significantly contribute to depressive moods.

Larry Young, William P. Timmie professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in Emory’s School of Medicine, wrote in an email to the Wheel that social interactions strongly impact the brain and the body’s overall health.

For example, he explained that a positive social interaction could stimulate the release of dopamine, which helps provide a sense of pleasure, and oxytocin, which focuses the brain’s attention to the social cues.

“Positive social relationships can then have a large number of health benefits ranging from decreased likelihood of depression and cardiovascular disease to increased immune function,” Young wrote. “If social interactions are negative in nature, they can have a very strong impact on the body’s stress response, which, if prolonged, can lead to mental health issues including depression.”

Young added that further research regarding social interactions and their relation to depression would significantly contribute to understanding depression.

“I think that the more we learn about how social interactions interact with systems involved in depression, like stress hormones and CRF, the better we’ll be at managing depression, not only through antidepressants but by managing social relationships,” Young wrote.

Gourley said that experiencing stressors derailed the processes of adolescent brain development.

“The adolescent brain is undergoing some profound structural changes so the neurons in the adolescent brain are literally remodeling and changing shape,” Gourley said. “Some synaptic connections, where the neurons talk to each other, are being formed but, [in the case of depression,] mostly these connections are being lost.”

Gourley added that adolescent depression was an important issue because of the black box warning that the FDA issued in 2008, which cautioned physicians against prescribing common antidepressants to individuals aged 24 and younger, leaving a large group of adolescents with depression untreated. To combat this problem, Gourley said she and her lab are testing two novel compounds that could have “antidepressant-like” properties.

“We know that these drugs are safe in human beings, and that can potentially be translated off label to treat depression in adolescents,” Gourley said.

Gourley explained that the neural changes, increased risk-taking and impulsive behaviors    that characterize adolescence in humans, also occurs in all other mammals.

Consequently, she said that she and her lab are using mice to study brain maturation and how stressor exposure impacts adolescent behavior.

Gourley said she and her lab have completed almost a year of research under the five-year grant. She said that her research would hopefully result in more information about the adolescent brain.

“Right now the basic biology needs to be better understood, but I do hope that in the five-year period of the grant, we’re going to come out with a lot more information about the adolescent brain,” Gourley said.

— By Harmeet Kaur

Courtesy of Marcie Casas

Courtesy of Marcie Casas

During the weekend of April 4, I had the privilege of spending my weekend with 27 undergraduates during Emory’s first ever DataFest, a weekend-long data analysis competition. DataFest originated at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2012, and has since expanded to multiple universities, including Duke and Princeton. Emory’s DataFest was sponsored by the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods of Emory University, IBM Academic Initiative and energy conservation company GridPoint. Similar in spirit to the recent Emory Hackathon, where students competed in teams for more than 32 hours to produce a product in the form of software or an app, DataFest students competed in teams to provide insights into real and complex data. Given the new age of “big data,” the high demand in the workforce for employees with data analytic capabilities and the increasing presence of statistical analysis in all fields of academic research, this was a tremendous professional development opportunity for all students involved.

The data provided was from a real business with real questions to answer. GridPoint supplied information regarding 110 of their restaurant and retail clients from across the United States spanning 2006-2013, which was provided in five relational data sets with more than three million observations and nearly 80 variables. This real life data was rich in issues that students do not often get to explore in the traditional classroom setting — classrooms which tend to have tidy data sets with finite solutions. Different measurements were made before and after the installation of the energy management system by GridPoint, repeated measurements were made over time, there was substantial variation in energy use daily, monthly and geographically and, as expected, energy use was highly correlated to weather readings.

There were no prerequisites to enter the competition, and students came in with varying backgrounds and capabilities. Faculty and graduate student volunteers were on hand all weekend long to provide assistance, and guidance as students stumbled through uncharted data territory. Just as volunteers were represented from departments such as political science, mathematics and computer science, sociology and psychology, the student participants were also very diverse with majors in business, applied math, economics, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and behavioral biology, computer science and many more. Diverse backgrounds strengthened teams by providing different perspectives on problem solving approaches and taught students how to collaborate with others outside their area of expertise, accurately mimicking a real-world experience.

For example, in my previous employment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identifying solutions to control the spread of a disease would often involve discussions between a biostatistician (myself), an epidemiologist, an entomologist and a medical doctor. Communicating with experts in different fields is more challenging than it may appear on the surface — while I needed to understand the disease process in order to appropriately analyze the data, I also needed to effectively explain statistical results to the team in order to create recommendations together. This collaborative and interdisciplinary process was evident in DataFest, as all teams approached the analysis from different angles and discovered unique insights in energy expenditure. No matter their skill level, all students made tremendous gains in their statistical and programming knowledge over the weekend. They also strengthened existing friendships, formed new ones and had the opportunity to interact with the volunteers and learn about how they use statistics in their research. Most importantly, everyone had fun. This was a low-pressure, low-risk environment for which the investigative process had no right answer — like assembling a jigsaw puzzle without edges where multiple pieces can fit together. An anonymous student review stated, “I loved it! I loved having the opportunity to focus on only one thing for two days and keep trying until I got it right. Our team didn’t win, but I learned a lot and was very proud of the work that we did.”

The value of this co-curricular event to the academic community was reflected in the judging panel, which consisted of myself, IBM representative Scott Pesses, Senior Lecturer in Psychology Nancy Bliwise, Chair of Political Science and Director of Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods Cliff Carrubba and Dean of Emory College Arts and Sciences Robin Forman. Despite this formidable line-up, all of the students impressively presented their findings. Because of the high quality of investigation and research presented, the judges were all quite challenged to identify a winner. But, of course, you all know the cliché which rings especially true here — all DataFest participants were winners in my mind.

On a personal note, while many professors may understandably feel the urge to hide from students over the weekend, I surprisingly found that spending my weekend with a group of students was energizing. Unfortunately, I do not often have the opportunity to engage with students on a personal level, given the large class sizes that I teach; I relish such experiences, and DataFest was incredibly refreshing. I am consistently impressed with the intelligence and dedication to academics of the Emory undergraduate student body in general, and I feel incredibly fortunate to teach at Emory and have the opportunity to introduce so many excellent students to the real world applications of statistics.

I am also nearly giddy pondering what DataFest 2020 will look like. The nation has experienced rapid growth in the number of statistics and biostatistics programs offered, and recently ‘data science’ has emerged as a formal discipline — Emory College is now too riding this wave. The newly created Quantitative Social Science major (beginning fall 2014) is uniquely on the forefront of curricular offerings at the undergraduate level as it develops quantitative skills by integrating  statistical, mathematical and computational techniques with an applied area of interest.

Given this new major and the plans to eventually offer more elective courses in the Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods, I suspect that the student body’s data analytic capabilities will be growing exponentially. But, for many students, this change has not been happening fast enough, as many have expressed frustration at the lack of general courses dedicated to applied statistical analysis. Until the university is capable of fully satisfying this demand, I am pleased that we can offer DataFest as a brief and intense (and wide-open!) window into the investigative process of exploring and analyzing complex data.

 - By Shannon McClintock

Courtesy of Ali Reubenstone Emory’s improv comedy group Rathskellar collaborated with professional Atlanta troupe Dad’s Garage this Saturday for You’re Not My Real Dad’s! The performance featured unscripted hilarity from members of both ensembles.

Courtesy of Ali Reubenstone
Emory’s improv comedy group Rathskellar collaborated with professional Atlanta troupe Dad’s Garage this Saturday for You’re Not My Real Dad’s! The performance featured unscripted hilarity from members of both ensembles.

It was standing room only in Harland Cinema on Saturday night as Rathskellar Presents: You’re Not My Real Dad’s! left audience members doubled over in fits of laughter. Rathskellar, Emory’s improv comedy troupe, and Dad’s Garage, an Atlanta comedy group, worked together to improvise hilariously outlandish situations.

Dad’s Garage was formed in Atlanta in 1995 and has since grown to be the most acclaimed improv group in the city, entertaining more than 30,000 audience members a year.

For anyone who has seen a Rathskellar show (and if you haven’t, you definitely should), Saturday’s performance was similar but definitely more dynamic as a result of the collaboration with Dad’s Garage.

Rathskellar never fails to render a few laughs by using varying accents and odd physical movements to tell a made-up-on-the-spot story that somehow makes perfect sense.

This show was no exception to the norm but was made even more special by the addition of three comedians from Dad’s Garage: Tommy Futch, Rueben Medina and Perry Frost.

Though all of the Dad’s Garage comedians were fantastic, my personal favorite was Futch because he unapologetically expressed himself through emotional and engaging dialogue.

His believability in each and every character that he portrayed made it impossible to take your eyes off him.

The night began, as every Rathskellar show does, with its Emperor, College junior Josh Jacobs, engaging the audience. The first half of the audience was asked to shout out their favorite breakfast item; the second half of the audience was asked to shout out their favorite color.

Then, the entire audience was asked to scream the dirtiest thing they could think of to encourage and remind people that Rathskellar runs a “no-smuck” show.

“New Choice,” an improv game where a bell is rung and the improviser must pick a new phrase for the phrase said right before the bell, was the first game of the evening.

In this case, Dad’s Garage’s Rueben Medina and College junior Neel Ghosh teamed up for a nautical-themed game.

The duo was hilarious together as they were able to bounce off of each other and make transitions seamlessly.

From Ghosh inviting himself into Medina’s boat to Medina’s discomfort towards the idea of Ghosh using his towel, the two had a charismatically witty banter.

Ghosh and Medina later paired up for a game called “Music On-Off,” in which a character must switch from saying to singing his or her lines on cue. In the game, Medina and Ghosh played sisters, and they were flawless.

From brushing their hair to putting on mascara to commenting on the fact that the mirror made them look fat, the two were perfect together.

Throughout the entire sketch, the laughter from the audience never died down.

Another improv game (and one of my favorites) is called “Song Styles.” Frost, College sophomore Rebecca Han, College junior Ali Reubenstone and College senior Kristie Denlinger all participated. From reggae to country to spicy Latin music, Reubenstone and Denlinger made up lyrics to the tunes all following a goldfish theme.

Frost and Han played the roles of radio commentators and they definitely provided some entertaining commentary to accompany the musical stylings.

Reubenstone was especially on point with rhyming lyrics and interpretive dance moves.

Following “Song Styles” was a film noir sketch with Jacobs and Frost.

The sketch took place at a laundromat and was insanely hilarious.

Jacobs delivered his deadpan lines with sharp accuracy, and Frost did not miss a beat in her responses.

An interesting talent of Jacobs’s is his ability to incorporate musings from earlier in the skit and even from other sketches entirely. This interconnection between sketches made the entire program flow together fluidly.

 

Another fun improv game that brings in audience participation is called “Confessions.”

Once again, anyone who has been to a Rathskellar show knows how this game works, but essentially audience members write confessions down before entering the room and the improvisers incorporate the confessions into their sketch. Reubenstone and College junior Julia Weeks acted out the roles of an annoyed, inconsiderate personal shopper and a fabulously wealthy client.

While “Confessions” is usually a laugh-out-loud sketch, this one was less entertaining than previous games.

The final improv game of the night was a long-form that included all members of both Rathskellar and Dad’s Garage.

Though there were many funny sketches, it was a little difficult to follow as the sketches kept changing quite quickly and then picking up again a few minutes later. Nonetheless, seeing all members on stage and getting to experience all of their talent was enjoyable.

Overall, the evening was an astounding success both in terms of the turnout and the content. Rathskellar was as good as ever, and the incorporation of professional improvisers made sketches that much funnier.

A much-needed break from the stressful onset of final exams, Rathskellar provided a comical compilation of sketches that left everyone wishing they could improvise their way through finals.

For those who missed Saturday’s show or for those who just can’t get enough of the immense improv talent, Rathskellar will be having their final show of the year on April 28 in Harland Cinema.

— By Annie McNut

Michael Fier/Staff Junior Jordan Selbach takes a hack. Selbach is batting .342 for the Eagles, who are approaching the stretch drive of their regular season. They lost 5-2 to Georgia Gwinnett College this weekend and will visit LaGrange College tonight.

Michael Fier/Staff
Junior Jordan Selbach takes a hack. Selbach is batting .342 for the Eagles, who are approaching the stretch drive of their regular season. They lost 5-2 to Georgia Gwinnett College this weekend and will visit LaGrange College tonight.

Emory fell 5-2 to the fourth-ranked Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon.

The loss was a tough one for the Eagles, as it was their Senior Day at Chappell Park.

With the loss, the Eagles fell 25-10 for the overall season, while the Grizzlies improved to 41-8 for the year.

Before the game started, Emory’s graduating players were recognized. Seniors Mike Bitanga, Josh Bokor, Robert Gross, Brandon Hannon, Ben Hinojosa, Daniel Iturrey, Jared Kahn, Matt McMahon, Ryan Toscano and Jared Welch will all be leaving the Eagles in just a few short weeks.

This class amassed 99 wins, three University Athletic Association (UAA) titles and an NCAA tourney berth in 2012.

After falling behind 4-0 in the first two innings, Hannon led a comeback in the bottom of the third inning, driving a pair of runs with a two-out single.

The Grizzlies fought back, adding a run in the top of the fourth and preventing Emory from scoring for the duration of the game.

Hinojosa took the loss for the game after allowing four runs, three of which were earned, over two innings of play.

McMahon pitched three innings of relief, allowing a run on three hits with three strikeouts.

Gross and Bitanga each finished the game with a pair of scoreless innings.

On the Grizzlies side, starting pitcher Tyler Carpenter earned the win to improve to 6-1 in 2014. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ pitcher Zeke McGranahan pitched a scoreless ninth.

Junior Brett Lake and Toscano each went two-for-four. Kahn added a two-for-five game for another solid multiple-hit effort from the Eagles.

The game didn’t spoil what has been a very impressive season for Emory.

“This season has certainly been a success, although we all realize that we haven’t reached our potential,” Welch said. “We played well against GGC; they just played a little bit better, and that’s going to happen sometimes.

He continued: “What’s important is that we come back strong against LaGrange and then close it out against Huntingdon in a three-game series this weekend.”

The Eagles are starting their final week of the regular season. The men will be traveling to LaGrange College for a 7 p.m. game tonight.

— By Nicola Braginsky

Photo by Jenna Kingsley College senior Christal Wang (left) and Georgia Institute of Technology sophomore Kush Patel (right) worked on   their app, PhotoSinc, Saturday night at the Emory Hackathon.

Photo by Jenna Kingsley
College senior Christal Wang (left) and Georgia Institute of Technology sophomore Kush Patel (right) worked on
their app, PhotoSinc, Saturday night at the Emory Hackathon.

It’s 11 p.m. in the Math and Science building’s biggest lecture hall. But instead of the silent, deserted place it is most Saturday nights, the room is alive with a quiet energy. Students working in hushed tones are scattered all about the giant space.

In the middle of the room, three young men type furiously on their keyboards, surrounded by a mountain of empty water bottles and Coke cans. In the front of the room, someone laughs as a fellow group member writes an equation on an already-crowded whiteboard. In the corner, a student bangs his hands on his laptop and consults his team with frustration.

“You see?” he says. “It works when I move my hand over the sensor. But on the monitor, it’s reverse! Did you see that?”

The focus, laughter and frustration all are directed at one event: Emory Hackathon 2014, a 32 hour competition to build an app, or hack, with a team and showcase the creation to win a multitude of prizes. This year’s hackathon was hosted throughout the Math and Science building from April 12 at 10 a.m. until April 13 at 5 p.m. The event was co-hosted by Microsoft, who offered over $5000 in prizes for skilled coders and beginners and boasted more than 200 in total attendance.

But what is a hackathon? And what is it that’s being hacked?

At events like Emory Hackathon, there’s no actual “hacking” in the mainstream sense of the word. The goal is never to hack into another account or get through the firewall of a government database. Rather, a hackathon is an event where computer programmers come together to work intensively on software products and programs. It’s a combination of the words “hack” and “marathon,” hence the need for computer prowess and coding stamina.

College hackathons started gaining popularity in the spring of 2009, when a hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania, PennApps, was born. Since then, hackathons have grown in quantity and attendance on campuses around the nation.

Many hackathons offer big prizes for the most innovative creations. PennApps has since grown to host over 2500 hackers and offer upwards of $30,000 in rewards. Emory Hackathon, only in its second year, cannot yet boast those types of numbers. But it is growing, and quickly.

Last year, Emory Hackathon was a small event with around 50 participants. This year, over 200 students participated. While some participants were Emory students, many came from neighboring schools like Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) or Georgia State University. Hackers came from five different states, and their education backgrounds ranged from high school to medical school.

“Hackathons are the biggest thing to happen to CS (computer science) in a long time,” College senior and lead organizer for the event Tom Mou said.

Mou, along with many others from the Emory Robotics and Computer Engineering Club, dedicated many months to planning this year’s event. The team spent much of their time obtaining sponsors, planning logistics and even hosted coding workshops for beginners in preparation for the competition.

Mou stressed the importance of gaining sponsors for events like this on campus.

“80 percent of our budget doesn’t come from Emory,” he said. “That’s why we turn to sponsors.”

Microsoft co-sponsored the event, in addition to other companies like Google, United Way, Uber, Zipcar, Wolfram, MailChimp, Mandril, Twilio and many others. The hackathon was also sponsored in part by Emory’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Chemistry, Laney Graduate School, College Council and Robotics and Engineering Club.

Sponsors helped provide food, prizes and speakers at the event. The prizes ranged from a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet for each team member, $500 in cash and one year WolframAlpha Pro/Mathematica passes for the Grand Prize winner to Startup Chowdown tickets at Atlanta Tech Village for the best startup-friendly hack. The best novice team received a $250 team cash prize and 6 month Code School passes.

With prizes for novice teams and support available from experienced hackers, the event was open to all skill levels.

“It’s really all about learning,” Mou said. “We wanted to focus on that aspect, not the prizes. We’re doing this for the Atlanta community.”

The Atlanta community came out bright and early. Check-in started at 8:30 a.m., followed by a kickoff ceremony, tech talks and then lunch, which served as a meet and greet for the participants. Then, things got quiet and the hacking commenced.

Food kept many hackers going throughout the event. Participants ploughed through five meals, 12 pounds of ground coffee, 150 bottles of Starbucks iced coffee and, of course, pieces upon pieces of pizza.

“It’s not a hackathon without midnight pizza,” Mou laughed.

Just before the midnight pizza, work began getting more intense all over the Math and Science building. Each team, consisting of a maximum of four members, only had 32 hours to complete their hacks. While some Emory students decided to go back to their rooms for the night, many of the hackers worked into the early hours of the morning, taking turns napping in various designated sections in the building.

While teams were scattered across different rooms, the hub seemed to be room 208, the giant lecture hall. The room was quiet, but there seemed to be a charge to the air, like a sort of silent frenzy.

“It’s usually even crazier than this,” College senior Christal Wang said. “I think some people went back to their dorms.”

Wang was on a team with her brother, Christopher Wang, and her brother’s friend, Kush Patel, both sophomores at Georgia Tech. Christal and Patel, both novices, teamed up with Christopher, an experienced programmer, for the weekend.

“We’re just here to learn,” Christal said, shaking her head with a smile. “This is Christopher’s thing. This is what he does on the weekends.”

The trio’s app, named PhotoSinc, was a picture service that took photos from a phone, uploaded and tagged them on the cloud, and then sent them individually to the tagged person. Essentially, the app allows people to share photos but bypasses social media.

“It grew out of being more private,” Patel said. “Chris and I aren’t fans of public social media.”

Another team, consisting of Trevor Goodyear, Gene Chorba, William Wood and Gabriel Siewe, all CS majors from Georgia State University, created an app called Shelter, which provides a portal for homeless shelters to maintain databases of the homeless with pictures and information related to each individual.

Though they are both experienced coders, it was Goodyear and Siewe’s first hackathon.

“We tried to ask to be in the novice category,” Goodyear joked.

“They said no,” Chorba said with a grin.

It ended up only being fair; Shelter won three prizes at the event, including Second Place overall, the United Way Hack for the Homeless Prize for the best hack that addressed an issue regarding homelessness and Best Use of Twilio application programming interface (API).

The grand prize went to College senior Neil Sethi and his team members Angie Palm, Brendan Isham and Shivani Negi, all students at Georgia Tech. Their hack, called Musiqu.es, was a sound sampling web application that allows users to act as a DJ on the go.

Third place went to Parachute, an app that delivers ice cream directly to the consumer by quadricopter. The creators, all Georgia Tech students, are now talking to King of Pops about the opportunity to deliver popsicles to customers by dropping them in tiny parachutes.

The high school team from Milton, Georgia took home the top new hacker prize.

All hacks were due at 3 p.m., when each team was given three minutes to demo their app to the judges. Then, judges deliberated and awarded prizes at the closing ceremony. Closing ceremony speakers included Protip Biswas, vice president of homelessness at United Way of Atlanta, Devin Rader, developer evangelist at Twilio and Brian Easter, CEO of Nebo Agency.

“Overall, the event was overwhelmingly successful,” Mou said. “We had people who knew nothing about coding make fully functional apps after learning basic platforms. The group of medical school students from Emory created a text-alert system that automatically alerts the authority in the event of a serious collision between bikes, motorcycles or cars. And yes, they knew nothing about coding before this.”

But learning wasn’t the only thing happening at the event; participants also made sure to make time to have some fun.

“Microsoft came out with a 3D printer for the first time and made stuff for people for free,” Mou said. “They also brought out 2 Xbox Ones.”

However, despite all of Hackathon’s success, Mou believes there is still room for improvement. He hopes that each year’s success will build upon the next. The only place to go, it seems, is up.

“We are already starting to work on next spring’s edition of the event, which will be much bigger,” he said. “More prizes, more participants, bigger venue.  And bringing in people from across the South to make it the biggest hackathon for the South by the South.”

— By Jenna Kingsley

Courtesy of Emory Athletics Senior Johnathan Chen watches his shot from the backswing. Chen, who said he was distracted from golf at the start of the season, decided that he will play professionally after graduation. Two weeks ago, he finished the Emory Invitational with a score of 69.

Courtesy of Emory Athletics
Senior Johnathan Chen watches his shot from the backswing. Chen, who said he was distracted from golf at the start of the season, decided that he will play professionally after graduation. Two weeks ago, he finished the Emory Invitational with a score of 69.

This fall didn’t go according to plan for senior golfer Johnathan Chen — well, not on the golf course anyways.

Coming off a third place overall finish at the 2013 Division III National Championship tournament, Chen was in the middle of the statistically worst season of his career.

Meanwhile, off the course, Chen, a Goizueta Business School student, was focused on his professional career: in August, he signed an offer letter to work at KPMG’s consulting group in San Francisco.

Even after the career victory of receiving an offer, something felt off for Chen, who is studying finance and strategic and management consulting. It wasn’t until his finals were over and he returned home to refocus on his golf game that he realized he wasn’t ready to give up golf just yet.

So, instead, Chen decided in January that he would play professional golf after graduation.

“Mainly it was me realizing that I have my whole life ahead of me to work in the corporate world … but I can be a consultant after I play golf,” Chen said. “The opportunity to play professional golf is not always going to be there. What put me over the edge to play golf over the corporate world was realizing that golf has been the dream I’ve always wanted to follow.”

When Chen speaks about his golf dreams, it’s not the typical athlete’s story. Chen’s primary focus was on tennis until an ACL tear in the beginning of high school forced him to move to golf full time. This late start to his golf career meant he never focused on the professional game and didn’t look up to the PGA tour’s biggest stars, such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, as many young golfers do.

Chen had never attended a professional event until his freshman year at Emory.

“I think my love of the game started with Dad,” Chen said. “He put the club in my hand for the first time and taught me lessons, like that you can’t show up to a tournament unprepared. It was really an outlet in that way for teaching me a lot of life lessons, and that has truly stuck with me ever since.”

Once Chen chose to play golf at Emory, he experienced immediate success. In his debut during the 2010-2011 season, his 74.21 scoring average was the lowest for a freshman in school history. He followed this performance up with first team all-University Athletic Association (UAA) honors during his sophomore year, before finishing third overall in Division III in his junior campaign, leading the Eagles to a fourth place overall finish in the division.

Despite his on-course success, his greatest contribution to the team might be his role as a mentor.

“[Chen] has been a great leader throughout his time at Emory,” senior Alec Berens said. “As a freshman he worked as hard as anyone else on the team. He has been a leader by example, and it has really had a profound effect on the rest of the teams drive and motivation.”

Once Chen made the decision to build off of this success at Emory and play professionally, there was no downtime. Due to the expensive travel costs and high tournament fees in professional golf, securing sponsorship is essential, he said.

“Once I made the decision, it was all about doing the leg work to make it happen,” Chen said. “It was talking with sponsors, budgeting, looking at tournament schedules … It is also a lot of networking. Once I made the decision to play golf it was all about sticking with the decision and working toward the goal of playing on the tour.”

Chen plans to use sponsorships from Taylor-Made and Bridgestone for his equipment needs and he has secured funding from family friends in Houston to cover the tournament and travel fees associated with playing on the tour.

The Texas native plans to stay in Atlanta in order to train and work as an assistant coach for the Emory golf team, but he will work to qualify for PGA Latin America and PGA Canada tournaments. As he prepares to navigate the complicated nature of the PGA tour — paying high fees, searching for tournaments and securing sponsorship — Chen has the benefit of knowing former Emory teammate, Ryan Dagerman (‘12B), who played professionally for two years after graduation.

Dagerman has since moved back to the corporate world; he is currently working as an investment banker at TM Capital in New York.

“He has talked with me a lot and helped me learn the things he did well, which I can copy, and the things he did not, which I can stay away from,” Chen said. “I always looked up to him as a freshman. I was always trailing him by a little bit in everything, and he has really been an inspiration and role model for me.”

Support from the entire Emory program has poured in for Chen, and not just from Dagerman. Head Coach John Sjoberg worked as a PGA golf professional before working at Emory, and many of Chen’s teammates plan to support him in the upcoming years.

“I will try and attend any tournaments that I can, based on location and timing,” Berens said. “I think at this early stage of our lives it is important to chase dreams and do what you love.

Berens added that he supports Chen’s decision to go pro.

“He has been an incredible friend and teammate over the last four years, and I know he will succeed out on the pro circuit,” Berens said.

For now, Chen and his teammates are focused on finishing out the spring season. This spring has been Chen’s best statistical effort. Two weeks ago, he won the Emory Invitational tournament with a 69 (-3) in the final round.

Chen and the Eagles continue the spring season today at the Navy Invitational Tournament in Annapolis, Md.

— By Nathaniel Ludewig

semester-online

Semester Online, an online-education consortium comprised of several universities including Emory, will disband following this year’s summer semester after the completion of its pilot year, according to an April 14 email from Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski.

Semester Online is a partnership between online education provider 2U and several top-tier schools such as Emory, Northwestern University, Boston College, University of Notre Dame and many other U.S. and international institutions.

Low program-wide enrollment, the loss of Duke University and Vanderbilt University before last fall’s launch and 2U’s desire to develop a fully online undergraduate degree program were cited as reasons for the dissolution of the consortium, according to an April 3 Inside Higher Ed article.

Duke University dropped from the consortium after its Arts and Sciences Council voted to block its membership due to the council not yet voting on how to award credit for online courses, according to an April 25, 2013 article in the Duke Chronicle.

The original consortium contained 10 universities and was established as a platform for offering online credit-bearing courses to undergraduate students who were not necessarily enrolled at the offering institutions, according to a Nov. 16, 2012 Inside Higher Ed article.

“We want to be part of the experiment, and we feel that the time is right,” J. Lynn Zimmerman, then-senior vice provost for undergraduate and continuing education at Emory, said in the 2012 article.

In Brzinski’s email, she acknowledged the Semester Online “experiment” contained many challenges, yet wrote that the pilot year of the program offered much success.

“We learned that it is possible to offer extremely rewarding educational experiences in a digital environment,” Brzinski wrote. “Our Semester Online courses, taught by [Religion professor] Gary Laderman, [English professor] Bill Gruber and [Psychology professor] Darryl Neill, have presented the very best of Emory.”

Brzinski noted many students’ enthusiasm for Semester Online’s structure as another curricular option, writing that two Emory seniors who are away from campus this semester will be graduating this year due in part to Semester Online.

Steve Savage, communications specialist for the Office for Undergraduate Education, wrote in an email to the Wheel that Emory is in negotiations with 2U to continue the Emory courses for the fall using the Semester Online platform for those students who have already applied to the courses.

Several Emory students currently enrolled in Semester Online courses were surprised that the program disbanded because they have enjoyed their online experiences leading to this point.

College junior Olivia Payton, enrolled in “Leading and Managing” from University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill, said she’s sad to see the program go and that she would have recommended the program to a friend.

“I’m currently taking [my course] because it seemed very interesting, and I wanted to see if I was responsible enough to handle an online class with my busy schedule,” Payton said. “It’s fun to learn from another professor from another school and have classmates from all over the country.”

For College sophomore Hal Zeitlin, programs like Semester Online represented the future of higher education.

“While education should prepare students for a profession, I am a strong believer that our future education systems should include elements which help students search within and find greatness,” Zeitlin said. “What I liked most about the format of Semester Online was that they had strong, engaged professors teach classes that were heavily enjoyed by students at the home school.”

Savage wrote that the dissolution of the program isn’t exactly a failure but a learning experience for all involved.

“We have learned a great deal about online education and ways to meaningfully translate a residential course to an online format,” Savage wrote. “We are actively working to apply those lessons and develop our own online courses in the next year.”

The end of Semester Online does not mark the end of Emory’s foray into online education, however.

“I am extraordinarily proud to have the Emory name attached to their innovative courses,” Brzinski wrote. “We look forward to developing online or hybrid courses at Emory outside of the Semester Online project.”

— By Stephen Fowler

Courtesy of JL

Courtesy of JL

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) president Mark Emmert recently dismissed the notion of “pay-for-play” this past December, stating that, “There’s certainly no interest in turning college sports into the professional or semi-professional.” With all due respect to Emmert, he could not be more wrong. The question is no longer whether student-athletes should be paid – it’s through what avenues. The NCAA has attempted to paint it as a black-and-white situation, with players on one side demanding professional salaries and the NCAA on the other side trying to uphold traditional amateur athletics – they know anything short of that caricature would be their downfall. This is not the case, and with the rash of lawsuits, public scrutiny into the unsavory operations of big-time athletics and potential intervention from Capitol Hill, it behooves the NCAA to find a common ground before it faces extinction.

The traditional arguments for “pay-for-play” revolve around the obscene amounts of money that collegiate programs rake in and demand that the people who generate such revenue be compensated fairly. Before I proceed, it is important to note some of these arguments are only applicable to athletes in men’s college basketball and football.

The Northwestern ruling affirming the rights of the university’s football players to unionize will be hard to overturn in the subsequent appeals due to the lack of legal precedents and sets the framework for future conflicts at other private universities. Regional Director Peter Ohr hammered home the point that student-athletes had obligations and expectations from the university that equaled and even eclipsed those of standard employees. The ruling treats football players as standard employees, which raises questions about the other rights of employees that are inhibited by the NCAA and its member institutions – namely the right to work other jobs, profit off of their own image and likeness, determine their own housing arrangements and to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries. As the ruling anticipated an appeal, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll be overturned according to legal experts such as Lester Munson – meaning that this is the landscape college athletics will face soon. While this applies currently only to private universities, this will force the hand of public universities soon enough, as I will detail in the later part of this ​article.

Now, why does this matter? The argument made by Emmert (and what some consider a strong rebuttal) is that it is called amateur athletics for a reason – these players should feel fortunate to not be saddled with student loan debt and consider a degree from a university more than adequate payment for their services. In light of the Northwestern ruling, some have even called for the players to be taxed on their scholarships since it would be considered compensation. These arguments are completely oblivious to the data behind the situation.

Let’s start with the revenues issue. Northwestern’s program, which is far from elite, generated $235 million over a period of 10 years starting from 2003. The six automatic-qualifying conferences will rake in approximately $16.1 billion in television revenue alone by the year 2032. The NCAA itself reported $627 million in net assets as of last year. According to a 2011 report, the average Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football player is worth $100,000 per year, and the average basketball player at that level is worth approximately $265,000 per year, while the average athletic scholarship doled out in 2010 was worth $10,400. Research also shows that when a football team rises from mediocre to great, applications to the university rise by 18.7 percent. There is absolutely nothing amateur about those numbers – the NCAA can’t claim that they are protecting amateur athletics when their financial decisions have done nothing to reflect that philosophy.

Clearly these student-athletes in men’s football and basketball are not adequately compensated with their scholarships – but are they even reaping the benefits of a college education? The Northwestern ruling shined a light on the strict regimen that the coaches had for players. You can hardly expect players to take advantage of a scholarship when they spend 40-50 hours a week practicing and are beholden to their coaches when they’re not on the field. Also, a dirty secret colleges don’t want publicized is that these scholarships are on a per-year basis and do not have to be guaranteed for the full four years – the coach reserves the right to cut the player and eliminate the scholarship for any reason, including injury. One of the most prominent athletics programs, the Alabama football team, had over 20 players leave by choice or force between 2010-2011 and jettisoned at least 12 athletes due to “medical reasons.” A coach can also leave for another opportunity whenever they wish, while athletes will have to sit out a season or two if they wish to transfer, jeopardizing any professional aspirations and taking away from the earning years of their lives. Just to summarize, the only compensation the majority of these players receive – an athletic scholarship – is rarely utilized to its capability and is liable to be taken away at any moment and is held to a stricter standard than the contracts their coaches sign.

I’ve debunked the myth that these student-athletes are anything more than glorified employees, and also the myth that they’re adequately compensated. The last obstacle, of course is why the NCAA must modify its system to remunerate its athletes. The reason is very simple: The NCAA must do so, otherwise it’ll become defunct in the near future. If we are to hold that the Northwestern decision will alter the landscape for private universities, public universities will be forced to follow suit despite state labor laws if they hope to attract any athletes who will maintain their lucrative television deals. This will put them in direct conflict with current NCAA rules, which will lead to either the NCAA altering those rules or having its six major conferences leave to form their own organization. In this situation, it is better for the NCAA to be proactive rather than reactive, lest they be blindsided by the mass exodus of programs. The revenue will continue to come in as long as sports is played, regardless of what organization the teams are affiliated with.

This is where the characterization of “pay-for-play” comes in: this is not intended to argue that players should be offered a professional salary for their services. It would not be economically feasible, and many of the programs would go under. Rather, the players should be paid as any other employee has the rights to – besides the compensation of a scholarship, they should be entitled to workers’ health benefits, have guaranteed four-year scholarships, be offered a schedule that allows them to take relative advantage of those academic resources and be allowed to profit off of their own image. There is a latent hypocrisy when Johnny Manziel was investigated for signing footballs for a payment, when one simply had to type in “Johnny Manziel” in the NCAA online store to get an image of a Texas A&M jersey with his number 2 on it. Ultimately, these are changes that the NCAA needs to make to ensure the best for the student-athletes they represent and for their own existence moving forward.

- By Calvin Li

Courtesy of Tom Cassaro College junior Tom Cassaro stars in AdHoc Productions’ Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical about the life of President Andrew Jackson. The performance will run through next Sunday, April 20 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building.

Courtesy of Tom Cassaro
College junior Tom Cassaro stars in AdHoc Productions’ Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical about the life of President Andrew Jackson. The performance will run through next Sunday, April 20 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building.

Of all the American presidents, who was the biggest rock star?

Probably not a question you ask too often. But that was precisely the topic of AdHoc Productions’ newest musical performance Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which opened on Thursday, April 10 at the Black Box Theater in the Burlington Road Building and will run through next Sunday.

In case the title doesn’t give it away, Andrew Jackson is the rock star of the performance. And rock he does.

Played by College junior Tom Cassaro, Old Hickory sings, jams, fights and shouts his way to the top of the United States government.

Along the way, he falls in and out of love with his wife Rachel (College freshman Carys Meyer), tangles with the more “traditional” Washington politicians and completely screws over the American Indian tribes of the South.

But all in the name of working for “the people.”

The show explains that Andrew Jackson adopted his notorious hatred for American Indians after they made his childhood on the frontier difficult. Instead of fuming silently, he decides to become a leader so he can fume audibly and rid the country of the “horrors of the natives.”

In one particularly hilarious (and disturbing) scene, Jackson sits at a meeting with the chiefs of American Indian tribes, searching desperately for a way to get them off the frontier land. When they can’t reach a “mutually agreeable” situation, he jumps out of his chair and begins literally pushing the chief away.

“Can’t we talk about this rationally?” the chief asks, irritated.

“No!” Jackson shouts back, still pushing him.

In that way, most of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is absorbed by the absurdity of this set-up.

Jackson wears tight jeans and guy-eyeliner, which is visually striking against the traditional 19th-century garb of the other characters.

The performers sing their way through political problems (“Populism, yeah, yeah!” chants the ensemble in the opening number).

And the staging itself harkens back to rock concerts of the 70s and 80s: one giant American flag spans the back wall, behind a band who spends the entire show onstage.

And as much as I’d like to say I know the exact meaning for all of these elements, I don’t.

But either way, it’s still just a really fun show.

The songs are just catchy enough and just ridiculous enough: particularly noteworthy are the narrative “The Corrupt Bargain” and the tragic but thoughtful “The Great Compromise.”

These numbers could have easily fallen into the trap of highlighting the outrageousness of these situations, but they ultimately serve as an opportunity to explain the motives of the characters and allow the audience to reflect on the larger implications of the show.

Not to say that they’re not laugh-out-loud entertaining: the political figures’ interactions always garnered a huge laugh, and Jackson’s no-nonsense, shoot-’em-up approach to all his problems were incredibly over-the-top.

“That’s right, motherfuckers! Jackson’s back!” he shouts, in the midst of a musical number.

Each role was cast perfectly, in such a way that no one role really outshone the others. Cassaro was just absurd enough and just sensitive enough to pull off the role of Jackson.

College sophomore Josh Young was, as always, deadpan hilarious, as the pot-bellied Martin Van Buren who ultimately becomes Jackson’s headset-wearing assistant. (“Tell the Indians to get lost!” Jackson cries. Running offstage, Young mumbles into his headset, “Get lost, Indians.”)

And College junior Julia Weeks was enchanting as both Jackson’s silently menacing friend-turned-foe Chief Black Fox and the squirrel-carrying, politically-ambitious Henry Clay.

One final aspect of the show which deserves exceptional credit is the choreography.

College junior Aneyn O’Grady contributed to the steps, which served as the perfect complement to the entertaining, melodic songs.

Through O’Grady’s tight yet buoyant movement, the ensemble members managed to be engaging to watch on their own but not so overwhelming that they detracted from the enjoyment of the songs themselves.

As far as understanding the overarching meaning for this rock concert of a political story, the closest we got for that was one of the final lines of the show.

“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” winds down as Jackson realizes his political career isn’t going to be quite as straightforward as he had hoped (“They can’t stop me from doing what I know the people want!”), and the storyteller (College junior Chelsea Walton) explains that though Andrew Jackson was pretty popular at the time of his presidency, history has recently begun to question whether he was, in fact, “a people’s president, or just a genocidal murderer.”

At that, Jackson cries, “Fuck history!”

The storyteller looks at him skeptically and calmly responds, “You can’t shoot history in the neck.”

And maybe that was the whole point of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

He fought his way to the top, pretty much killing anyone who got in his way — but that method of facing his problems wouldn’t help him change how history perceived him.

Or maybe the whole point was just to have a fun rock show.

And given the laughs, music and story that it provided, that explanation is also just fine by me.

— By Emelia Fredlick

Courtesy of Emory Athletics Freshamn Katarina Su delivers a shot for the Eagles. Playing in the number two doubles slot with sophomore Beatrice Rosen, Su defeated a doubles squad from Middlebury and one from Amherst 8-6, and lost to a Bowdoin doubles team 8-5 over the weekend.  The women’s tennis team is ranked second in the country.

Courtesy of Emory Athletics
Freshamn Katarina Su delivers a shot for the Eagles. Playing in the number two doubles slot with sophomore Beatrice Rosen, Su defeated a doubles squad from Middlebury and one from Amherst 8-6, and lost to a Bowdoin doubles team 8-5 over the weekend. The women’s tennis team is ranked second in the country.

The women’s tennis team won all three of its matches in Brunswick, Maine, taking down a trio of ranked teams by beating Middlebury College, Amherst College and host Bowdoin College this weekend. Emory entered the weekend as the second ranked team nationally and by beating three highly regarded teams, did nothing to harm their ranking. The team’s record after the weekend sweep is now 18-2, and the women continued their unbeaten streak against Division III opposition through 12 matches thus far.

Emory commenced their weekend of competition against eighth-ranked Middlebury College on Friday.

The Eagles got off to a fast start from the doubles matches, as senior-freshman teams led to victories in number one and number three doubles.

In number one doubles, senior Gabrielle Clark and freshman Michelle Satterfield won the first point of the match for Emory in a strong 8-1 victory. Senior Brenna Kelly and freshman Michelle Goodman won the number three doubles event in a 8-6 set, and sophomore Beatrice Rosen, playing with freshman Katarina Su, won by the same score in number two doubles.

The Eagles were not content with their dominance in the doubles portion of the matchup, and continued to sweep the singles portion as well, 6-0. The singles matches included an efficient victory from Clark, the number one singles player, who won her match quickly in two sets, 6-0, 6-3. Satterfield, in the three singles game, swept her Middlebury opponent 6-0, 6-0 in two sets.

Head Coach Amy Bryant’s team picked right up from the Middlebury match against fourth-ranked Amherst College, as they would again sweep the doubles matches to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

The Eagles once again capitalized on their strong start and finished the singles matches with a 8-1 lead over their highly-ranked opponents from Amherst.

The doubles pairings remained untouched, resulting in 8-2, 8-6 and 8-6 victories for the number one, two and three doubles teams.

The victory by the number one doubles team consisting of Satterfield and Clark was Clark’s 100th doubles win in her Emory career. Clark is the third Eagle to accomplish such a feat, and if she wins five more doubles matches will break the school record set by Zahra Dawson.

Clark, the southeast region’s top player, would go on to defeat Jordan Brewer, her Northeast region counterpart in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.

Katarina Su’s victory was her 20th of the season, making her the second member of the team behind Satterfield to reach that plateau in 2013-14.

The final match of the weekend proved to be the most challenging for Emory, as they narrowly edged out seventh-ranked Bowdoin College 5-4. For the first time all weekend, the Eagles did not earn an advantage in the doubles events, winning only number one doubles, as the team of Clark and Satterfield won their closest match of the weekend 8-5.

Going into the singles matches down 2-1 put pressure on the team to perform, but wins from Clark, Rosen, Goodman and Su were enough to secure victory.

Tiffany Chang, the number one singles player from Bowdoin, forced the usually dominant Gabrielle Clark into a tiebreaker, one that the Emory student-athlete would win 7-3. Melissa Goodman won her number four matchup in an impressive 6-0, 6-0 performance.

While the win against Bowdoin was closer than the other matches this weekend, it secured a perfect weekend for a team that is beginning to heat up, winning its past six meets, most of which have been against ranked opponents.

Success on a large scale is nothing new for the women’s tennis team, as they placed second at the NCAA Division III championships last year, and have won five titles in the history of the program.

The Eagles will look to continue their good form against Brenau University at home on April 15 as they look to add a sixth trophy to the case.

- By Oliver Rockman

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