People Notes May 2021


Steve Cicala, an assistant professor economics, was quoted extensively in the Washington Post interactive feature titled “Off the Grid: A flood of federal aid often fails to reach America’s neediest families.” Cicala saw that America’s poorest families are often not getting the aid they need, and found startling evidence in Peoria, Ill., where electricity shut off rates were disturbingly high. “There are some places where the pain is really extraordinary,” he said. 

Kelly Sims Gallagher, Fletcher School academic dean and professor of energy and environmental policy, and Fletcher predoctoral research fellow Qi Qi had their peer-reviewed journal article "Chinese Overseas Investment Policy: Implications for Climate Change" recently published in the journal Global Policy.

Jane Gillooly, professor of the practice at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA) had her film Suitcase of Love and Shame screened at Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) as part of Documentary Voices, and accompanied by a livestream conversation on April 14.

Rachel Kyte, F02, dean of The Fletcher School, and Kelly Sims Gallagher, F00, F03, Fletcher academic dean and professor of energy and environmental policy, participated in a roundtable about the global commitment to climate action with U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.). They also discussed the Biden Administration’s Leaders on Climate Summit and moving forward to COP26 in a webinar moderated by Amy Myers Jaffe, the managing director of Fletcher’s Climate Policy Lab.

Amy Myers Jaffe, Climate Policy Lab managing director and Fletcher School research professor, has published a book, Energy’s Digital Future: Harnessing Innovation for American Resilience and National Security. She will host a book talk with Columbia University on May 11.

Mihaela Papa, Fletcher School adjunct assistant professor in sustainable development and global governance, and Francis O’Donnell, a Fletcher School postdoctoral scholar, published “India’s multi-alignment management and the Russia–India–China (RIC) triangle” in the journal International Affairs.

Sujay Ravikumar, F20, published his research in CIERP’s Innovation in Energy series: “Mainstreaming Electric Mobility: the Benefits, Barriers, and Business Case for Electric Buses in Indonesia”.

Michelle Samour, professor of the practice at the SMFA and a multimedia artist, has a solo exhibition, Mapping Borders and Boundaries, on view at the Fuller Craft Museum through September 19. Her luminous artworks, composed in media as varied as foil, paint, wood, and beeswax, offer a “cartographical reflection” on her Middle East heritage as she breaks down and probes conventional notions of territory. The exhibition can be viewed online here.


Danielle Bertaux, F22, and Miriam Israel, A18, F24, have each received $5,000 scholarships from the Straus Historical Society Scholarship Program. The scholarships are awarded to a graduate students whose professional goal is in the field of public service. According to the society’s announcement, Bertaux, who graduates from the Fletcher School next year, aims to focus on gender-based issues and problems of sexual violence including sex trafficking and femicide; Israel begins a master’s program at the Fletcher School this fall as part of a dual degree program with Harvard Divinity School. She hopes to work with communities around the world to address issues related to climate change.

Nancy Marks, community service program coordinator at the School of Dental Medicine/Tisch College of Civic Life, is among the Boston poets honored by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and  Culture and Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola, as part of this year’s Mayor's Poetry Program. Marks’ poem, “Material Witness,” written in honor of her mother, will be displayed on the walls of Boston City Hall for 12 months starting in April. Marks read her poem during a virtual poetry reading on April 21; you can listen to the readings on Facebook here.

Kasso Okoudjou, professor in the Department of Mathematics, and Todd Quinto, Robinson Professor of Mathematics, have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Visiting and Early Scholars’ Experiences in Mathematics Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Mathematics (VERSEIM-REU) program. VERSEIM-REU is an intensive 10-week summer research program in applied and pure mathematics, which will recruit students from groups underrepresented in mathematics. VERSEIM-REU is currently recruiting its first cohort for summer 2021 and will run part of its activities with the VERSE program. Okoudjou will serve as principal investigator and Quinto will be co-principal investigator. Fulton Gonzalez, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, also contributed to the NSF proposal. The work will involve approximately 10 math department faculty and some graduate students.

Fiorenzo Omenetto, Frank C. Doble Professor and dean of research at the School of Engineering, was a recent guest on BYUradio, located on the campus of Brigham Young University. On a Top of Mind segment, Omenetto shared insights about silk as a durable alternative to leather and, compared to the toxicity of the tanning industry, a more sustainable and naturally derived material.

Layth Sidiq, lecturer of music and director of the Arab Music Ensemble, has been named artistic director of the New York Arabic Orchestra. Sidiq succeeds the late Bassam Saba, who co-founded the New York Arabic Orchestra in 2007 and served as its artistic director and president until his passing in December of 2020. A Jordanian with Iraqi roots, Layth started his musical training at the National Music Conservatory in Amman, then attending Chethams School of Music in the UK. After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, he finished his Bachelor’s in Performance in 2014 and went on to receive his Master’s of Music in contemporary performance from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in 2016. He also has led music programs for Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebanon.


Tommy Hadges, A69, invites fans of Tufts history to tune into PBS for a feature documentary that includes interviews with Hadges and Joe Rogers, A72, about their work on the Tufts campus radio station WTUR, now WMFO. The film, WBCN and The American Revolution (“The incredible, true story of how a radio station, politics, and rock and roll changed everything”) will be shown on Boston’s PBS station WGBH on May 6 (Ch. 2 at 9 p.m.), May 7 (Ch. 44 at 12 p.m.) and May 8 (Ch. 44 at 8 p.m.). The documentary “chronicles the glory days of Boston’s WBCN, a commercial radio station that became one of the country’s foremost freeform rock stations and a mirror of the antiwar, anti-establishment foment of the hippie days,” according to one review. Hadges and Rogers were among the first announcers hired at WBCN when the station switched formats from classical music to rock on March 15, 1968, based on their work at the Tufts campus radio. There’s also a classic video mention of Tufts by Walter Cronkite from a CBS Evening News broadcast covering Moratorium Day observances. To learn more about the history of Tufts radio, see a 2010 Tufts Journal story.  

Trecia S. Pessoa, J96, recently received an Education & Literacy Award from Volunteer New York!. She was recognized for her work with the young women’s mentoring program In Honor of Her, which was co-founded by Nicole Sheindlin and her mother, the Honorable Judith Sheindlin, star of the syndicated television program, Judge Judy, who shared her own thanks online. Pessoa is a vice president and senior managing partner MasterCard.