Announcing Proscenium Journal for New Plays

I’ve been helping start a theatre journal called Proscenium that’s gearing up to publish plays and theatre-related articles for its inaugural issue this fall. The new journal aims to create the first free, online platform for sharing new plays. More information (and submission instructions) can be found at

The project’s been really rewarding to work on so far. The journal’s received submissions from authors all over the country, some with long production histories and others just starting, and it’s been fun reading and getting to be a part of the amazing work people are doing.


Proscenium sprang largely out of an absence of opportunities for new playwrights to publish their works outside of large publication organizations like Samuel French. And unlike these venues, Proscenium does not collect royalty cuts from authors – it obtains only one-time publication rights to the pieces it prints. The journal aims to create a new publication model for playwrights.

While there are a variety of literary magazines, journals, and other general publication outlets, there are currently very few similar publications for new theatre. As a result, there are likewise very few opportunities for undergraduates to publish dramatic work. And given the enormous volume of impressive dramatic writing happening at Puget Sound – through playwriting and creative writing classes, Student Initiative Theatre’s playwriting festivals and workshops, Ubiquitous They sketch comedy, and via the theatre department – we definitely encourage campus writers to submit to the journal.

Speaking of submissions, Proscenium is taking submissions up until its August 1st deadline for the fall issue. Plays can be sent to – please include a brief 100-word author bio and your piece as either a PDF or Word document. We’re looking in particular for short one-acts and ten minute plays to fill out this first edition.

Besides Proscenium, I’ve otherwise been busy editing XRDS, the national undergraduate magazine of the Association for Computing Machinery. I’m a feature editor for the magazine, which entails brainstorming authors and themes for the publication’s various issues, steering the general direction of the magazine, and lots of editing! I’ve been editing articles for our upcoming issue on natural language processing, an exciting fusion of language and computer science (at least for a dual biblio/technophile like myself). If you want to check out more about the magazine, go to:

Between the two magazines, I’ve definitely been forced to brush up on my editing skills! It’s also showing me, though, that there’s almost nothing more entertaining to someone who likes reading and writing then reading and revising new writing and helping bring writing to new audiences.

Research Reflections

A brief demographic questionnaire from the study.

A brief demographic questionnaire from the study.


Hi everyone! I’m Stephen Baum, a rising senior and psychology major. This is my first ever blog post, as well as my first summer conducting research independently, which, initially, was a slightly daunting prospect. While I was incredibly excited and humbled to have received a summer research grant, I was anxiously aware of the challenges that lied ahead. Somewhere along the line, I visualized myself drowning in a sea of journal articles that I was hopelessly inept at trying to interpret. However, thanks to the support of my advisor, Jill Nealey-Moore, (Ph.D, Psychology) I have neither downed nor am I (completely) inept at reading and analyzing articles; thus far, the research process has been fantastic and extremely rewarding, albeit challenging.

While I can’t speak entirely about the specifics regarding my research, as I am still running participants and don’t want to compromise the scientific validity of what I am testing, my research generally examines how an individual’s mood alters as a function of various tasks that they perform. Participants in my study come into the lab, complete several written exercises and questionnaires, and are then compensated for their participation. The study in its entirety takes around 35 minutes, which, figuratively speaking, is in a “sweet spot”; long enough to comprehensively examine how the tasks influence mood without leaving a participant overly fatigued and potentially compromising their ability to concentrate.

As a whole, my reflections on conducting research thus far are positive. It is very apt to characterize a considerable portion of the research process as unglamorous; for every significant finding or “eureka” moment, there are hours and hours spent in the lab, at the computer, or the library, meticulously sorting through the world of online publications, struggling with the margins on a set of questionnaires, and agonizing over the heading on a written activity. Research is inherently painstaking, and it highly prioritizes attention to detail; those that put in extra effort will be rewarded with the most fruitful, and often, most unexpected findings. Since a significant portion of the validity in experimental psychological research rests in ensuring that each participant in the study has as identical of an experience as possible, minutia cannot be ignored. In this way, routine is a researcher’s best friend, as the experimental procedure for each and every participant follows a pre-drafted “script” that standardizes language and controls for deviations. While some may find this monotonous, the process is incredibly inherently satisfying for me, as I get a certain gratuitous please out of agonizing over organizational details and running a participant directly according to the script.

Additionally, being able to work in such close proximity to Jill and pick her brain has considerably advanced my academic development. The axiom “work smarter, not harder” comes to mind – while research does require you to work (very!) hard, which Jill demonstrates, it rewards innovative, critical though and harnessed spontaneity. Observing Jill’s careful and analytical reasoning has enabled me to grasp the value of such traits in an experimental setting.

Watching my thought process systematically evolve from when my research project was in its fledgling stages has been incredibly gratifying and empowering. I believe that largely due to the help of those around me, I’ve been able to progressively develop a variety of skills that will benefit me even outside of an academic research setting, such as the ability to problem solve in difficult situations, or ration time and resources in an advantageous manner.

So that is about it! Hopefully I can keep everyone up to date with my adventures in the lab as my study progresses. I’m looking forward to being able to speak more freely about the semantics of my research and the theory behind it. Stay tuned!

It’s autumn down here

While all of you Northern Hemispheric folks are starting to enjoy summer, some of you starting out a few months of vacation, down here we are hard at work with final projects, papers, tests, sailing, camping, swimming, playing, watching the World Cup, and trying to squeeze every last drop out of this precious time.

Last Friday was my third time sailing here, through my university.  Because there are many people who have dropped out, I officially have a place in the class/team, and they opened it up for other folks to sign up.  So I not only got to practice managing a boat that I’m still fairly new to, but also had the fun and funny experience of teaching brand new sailors, who had never set foot on a boat, how to sail.  In Spanish.  Some of the words are anglicisms, like outhaul and cunningham, while others are terms that I never fully learned in English either.  We got to go a bit away from the harbor, surfing the large swells and enjoying the brisk breeze.

When I left and got back to my house, Chile’s first game had just begun and my living room was awash in red.  Beer and orange soda were mixed in glasses (fanschop, it’s called, meaning fanta-beer), eyes scarcely strayed from the screen to greet me, and a few people were munching choripan (chorizo-pan, or sausage and bread, because Chilean world cup fare is all about the portmanteau).  I felt sticky from spending my afternoon in a wetsuit, so I went to take a quick little shower.  Just as I was toweling off, I heard the unmistakeable ruckus of the first goal, erupting from the television, from the people downstairs, soon followed by car horns honking and yells from nearby houses.  I wasn’t quite downstairs when a second goal followed on the heels of the first.  As soon as I sat down, my presence near the TV seemed to turn the tide and although they continued to overwhelmingly possess the ball, the Chileans were having trouble scoring, and Australia got a few breakaways, and then a goal.

Normally, gatherings with family and friends here seem pretty relaxed, with a free flow of food and drink, but on this occasion I saw the obsessive soccer fanaticism that caused delayed and refills, grabbing chips, or even just taking a sip of beer until the ball was out-of-bounds.  Wouldn’t want to lose concentration for a second, after all.  At one point, I think I went too far into this concentration and came out on the other side, wondering which of these little moving dots of light I was supposed to be focused on, but the yells of my companions brought me back to reality.  We were reduced to a simple worldview pitting Us against Them.  I thought about how in Ultimate, the onus of being a good sportsperson is placed on each player, and the integrity of the game is only held up through self-refereeing.  By contrast, soccer players will frequently argue with a ref’s call, seeming to want the advantage for their team at any cost.  However, you also see them helping players of the opposite team to get up, shaking hands after a contentious moment, and kicking the ball out of bounds when someone on the other team is injured.  These moments remind us that even in an atmosphere of the fiercest competition, there always remains that human element, where brief shows of compassion are expected and as much as shows of great athleticism.

Chile’s Jean Beausejour scored the team’s third goal just before the game ended, and I was there to see it, and to be part of the room of fans, jumping up and down with a pride as if each one of them had personally participated in making the goal happen.

This is a great place to be for the World Cup.  I watched the US-Ghana match as well, this time at a bar with a huge group of Americans, and I have to say we did our country proud with face paint and noise, chanting extra loudly to make up for the fact that there were no car horns outside accompanying our yells. To both of my red, white and blue teams: I couldn’t be prouder, vamos Chile y vamos USA!

Beginning Research: Learning, Slicing, and Splashing brains

As this is my first post, I would like to briefly introduce myself: I am Emilie Kurth, a rising senior here at Puget Sound. I am majoring in Biology, minoring in French, and I am also a member of the Honors Program. This summer is my first experience conducting research outside of a controlled classroom setting. I have found this change to be liberating in how I approach my scientific questions and the relaxed environment has also encouraged me to become more self-motivated as well as innovative with my biological thinking.

Plastic Pollution in Alaskan Waters

Plastic Pollution in Alaskan Waters

My research project requires a relative amount of creativity because it combines two rarely linked fields: neuroscience and ecology. I am studying the reproductive and neurophysiological effects of chronic plastic exposure in two species of seabirds: the Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) and Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus). Unfortunately, these seabirds are two of many species known to ingest plastic, which represents the largest global marine pollutant, measuring at 315 billion pounds in 2009. Plastics are used universally, and in order to optimize their functionality and durability, many plastics are manufactured with chemical additives such as bisphenol A (BPA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), nonylphenols (NPs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), all of which interfere with the neuroendocrine system. Once seabirds have ingested plastics, these chemical additives can leach through the blood stream and into major organs. I am researching to examine if chemical additives have permeated the brain, (particularly the hypothalamus which controls eating, sleeping reproduction, etc.), and the gonads (ovaries and testicles) of juvenile Northern Fulmars and Sooty Shearwaters. I am searching for abnormalities of size and structures in these anatomical regions using dissection, weighing, and microscopic techniques.

Thawing a California Gull

Thawing a California Gull

My past three weeks working in the labs of Peter Hodum (PhD, Biology Department) and Siddharth Ramakrishnan (PhD, Biology and Neuroscience Departments) have focused predominantly on learning and trouble-shooting my methods. I have practiced my procedure on several ill-fated California Gulls donated by Slater Museum. And from my practice, I have perfected my techniques of extracting the gonads, fixing them, and then slicing them into 5-20 µM thick slices (which is extremely small) using the Cryostat, which essentially is an extremely precise and high-tech deli slicer. Additionally I have learned the art of staining slides, where the histology slides to which the

Frosted Histology Slides with Attached Tissues

Frosted Histology Slides with Attached Tissues

sliced tissues have adhered are dipped into a series of chemicals that tinge the tissues with purple, pink, and blue hues, allowing for observation of surface details beneath a fluorescent microscope.




Thus far, fixation of the brain has served as the largest challenge, wherein I produced a flubber-esque brain and unintentionally splashed it all over my laboratory station (whoops!). However, today I dissected a perfectly fixed brain (after Siddharth suggested sawing holes into the skull so the fixative would better permeate the tissue), and it is currently soaking in a second fixative where it will stay for several days until it is ready to

Ventral View of the California Gull's Brain

Ventral View of the California Gull’s Brain

undergo slicing and analysis. I am optimistic that this brain will offer much better results than the last few, and once I have solidified my procedure with the brain, I can finally begin to analyze the Northern Fulmars and Sooty Shearwaters!

Until next time!