And this year’s honorary degrees go to…


Unlike past years, the University will be awarding honorary degrees solely to Brown alumni (sorry Matt if you’re trying to keep up with Ben) as part of the 250th celebration. At Commencement on May 26th, the University will award the following nine alumni:

  • Lee Berk ’64 – Does his name sound familiar? If not, say it backwards. You got it! After graduating, Berk pursued a law degree from Boston University and soon began working with his father, the President of the Berklee College of Music—named after Berk himself. Berk quickly moved up from Vice President to President in 1979 and served until 2004. As they say, it runs in the family.
  • Beatrice E. Coleman ’25 – Though Coleman passed away earlier this month, just a few weeks away from turning 110, she will be awarded her degree posthumously. Coleman attended Brown at a time when she had to live at home “because black students weren’t allowed to live in the dormitories then,” according to the Brown Alumni Magazine. After graduating with a degree in Latin, Coleman worked as a school teacher, a nursery director and a member of the NAACP.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides ’82 – Who should have Madeleine chosen—Leonard or Mitchell?! Eugenides is the author of best-selling books The Marriage Plot, Middlesex, and The Virgin Diaries. Since The Marriage Plot involves Brown students post-graduation, I propose Eugenides hosts a panel about finding love outside of the Van Wickle Gates. Or he can talk about winning the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2003. Either would be interesting.
  • Arthur Horwich ’72, M.D.’75 – Back when the PLME program lasted six years, Horwich was the valedictorian of the first class in that program. Horwich completed his residency in pediatrics at Yale University, and then went on to start his own laboratory focusing on proteins in yeast. He was elected in to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and currently a Sterling Professor of Genetics and Professor of Pediatrics.
  • Mary Lou Jepsen ’87, Ph.D. ’97 – Nope, she is not Carly Rae’s mom, but she’s pretty impressive. After concentrating in studio art and electrical engineering, Jepsen is now Head of the Display Division of Google X, a secretive branch of innovation at Google. In her TED talk, Jepsen questions whether devices will eventually be able to read information from our brains. So, our phones could call people on their own, maybe?
  • Debra L. Lee ’76 – Currently the CEO of BET Networks, Lee has been named one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment” by The Hollywood Reporter. In 2010, Lee was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. According to, under Lee’s leadership, the network “continues to bring quality programming to (their) audience of 89 million households.”
  • Lois Lowry ’58 – You’ll soon see The Giver, Lowry’s most widely-read bookon the silver screen with stars like Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift. Lowry was awarded the Newbury Medal for The Giver and Number the Stars. Lowry said one of the concerns she includes her novels is “the vital need for humans to be aware of their interdependence, not only with each other, but with the world and its environment.” 
  • Nalini Nadkarni ’76 – As a forest ecologist, Nadkarni has explored and studied the rain forest canopies of Costa Rica. According to the University press release, Nadkarni’s work “focuses on the ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopies, particularly the role of canopy-dwelling plants.” Her TED talk concerns the ecosystem of the canopies and the value of conservation.
  • Thomas Perez ’83 – Currently serving as the United States Secretary of Labor, Perez concentrated in international relations and political science. Perez has served as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Before his time in politics, Perez was a law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

According to the press release, “Berk, Horwich, Lowry, Jepsen, Eugenides, and Lee will present Commencement Forums on Saturday. Nadkarni will deliver the Baccalaureate address to the Class of 2014.”

Image, via.

Start tuning in to HBO’s Silicon Valley


HBO is  known for originating content that represents everyone from millennials in Brooklyn, to gay men in San Francisco, to fantasy royalty in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It was only a matter of time before they focused on a group of programmers in Silicon Valley.

Created by King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, Silicon Valley takes a look at youthful minds in a culture that begs for constant innovation. Where Owen Wilson’s and Vince Vaughn’s The Internship put two unlikely faces in the middle of this fast paced world of technology, Silicon Valley introduces us to the people who are comfortable creating our apps and smart phones.

The series’ protagonist, Richard Hendrix, is working alongside four other programmers in  an “incubator,” someone’s house where they all work on their individual programs. The other programmers are familiar comedic faces like Kumil Nanjiani (Portlandia), Josh Brener (The Internship), and T. J. Miller (Cloverfield). 

Richard is played by uncomfortable-yet-adorable Thomas Middleditch (who stars in a hilarious the Above Average webseries “The Morning After“). While coming up with a seemingly useless app to detect copyright infringement in music, he actually creates “a compression algorithm.” I put that in quotes because that means nothing to me, but it seems like it means everything to the team. Apparently, this fictional algorithm would make compressing files extremely quick without losing file quality. I take this to mean that I could watch this show on my iPhone without there being a stupid lag. When the company that Richard works for hears about his personal project, they begin a bidding war with innovative investor Peter Gregory, played by the late Christopher Evan Welch. In the heat of going from being a nobody to someone of enormous monetary value, Richard frantically weighs his options. Does he want to sell his idea, or turn it into his own business that he can build from the ground up?

While I didn’t find this show “laugh out loud” funny,  I’m pretty sure that was due to the technical jokes about programming and coding that they threw around. I’m sure it reflected  niche nuances of app-developing culture. Still, the show has a solid foundation to fully round out these characters, and I’m excited to see how the story about Richard’s business plays out over the course of this first season. With a clever  and unique environment, a varied ensemble of seasoned comedians, Silicon Valley is sure to be a hit.

“It’s just a garden variety panic attack,” a doctor says to Richard after he pukes out of stress during the bidding war. “Welcome to Silicon Valley. We see people like you all the time,” he replies.

Image, via.


We’re live blogging the 2014 UCS/UFB Debates!

Tune in at 7:30 p.m. for our live blog of the 2014 UCS/UFB Debates. You can also stop by Metcalf Auditorium to watch the event live, with the opportunity to ask the candidates questions.

The candidates running for UCS President are Asia Nelson ’15, Maahika Srinivasan ’15, and Jonathan Vu ’15. The candidates running for UCS Vice President are Alex Drechsler ’15 and Sazzy Gourley ’16.

10 ways to be a competent airplane traveler


We have almost reached our much-needed spring break! If you’re traveling by air this spring break (or ever plan on flying in the future), I beg you: be a competent traveler. Please.  If Home Economics was still a class in high school, there should be a chapter on airport and plane etiquette. While I love flying (especially the people watching), it also makes me bitter by the time I actually make it to my destination. Here are a few tips to make your travels, and your fellow passengers’, a much more enjoyable experience:

1. Weigh your bags before you get to the airport.

Airlines use any opportunity to snag another buck from you, so you can save yourself the overweight luggage fee!

But also, if I’m trying to board my flight on time, and you’re opening your checked bag deciding what you’re going to shove into your carry on so you won’t be charged, you need to reevaluate your life. Generally, 50 pounds is the max weight. Don’t throw a tantrum with the poor attendant because you went a few pounds over. If you weighed it at home, you can decide what to remove and save the people behind you in line and the attendant the trouble.

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10 things I learned from Fred Armisen’s visit to Providence


Last night, Fred Armisen kicked off his Portlandia national tour at The Columbus Theater on Federal Hill, taking the night off as the bandleader for Late Night with Seth Meyers. Fred will be making stops in Minneapolis and Denver, screening a new episode of Portlandia each time. In Providence, Armisen screened “Celery,” the third episode in the show’s fourth, and current, season. The episode’s main story centered on Steve Buscemi’s character attempting to make celery the next popular vegetable (like kale right now). The other sketches included a 9-1-1 call center that found beets to be the source of everyone’s emergencies and Carrie Brownstein filing for social media bankruptcy and erasing her online presence.


Fred then opened up the floor for a Q&A to an audience that could have been taken from the 90s and cast as extras in his show. Here are ten things I learned:

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First date or job interview? The similarities may surprise you.

We’re in the heat of internship season, which means hours of internship searches, resume edits, and interview preparation. Valentine’s Day has come and gone and the next holiday that suggests gift-giving/relationship-labeling is far away, which means it’s also a perfect time to catch a few first dates.

In the midst of studying for midterms, prepping for the interview, and finding a suitable outfit, you may find yourself dazed and confused to the point that you’re asking yourself, “Is this an interview… or a date?” While the two have different stakes at hand, the processes are eerily similar. Check out the diagram below to decide whether you’re grabbing coffee with a romantic interest or a future employer.