Ampersand Magazine

Sharing stories of the incredible people, research, and ideas in Arts & Sciences

Spring 2024 Issue

The Ampersand magazine shares stories of incredible people, research, and ideas in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. It is published semiannually and distributed to alumni, faculty, students, staff, and friends of Arts & Sciences.

The Spring 2024 issue includes stories on:

  • Collaborative research on quantum science
  • An Arts & Sciences guide to hip-hop and rap
  • The secrets of the human brain
  • The future of classical ballet

Read the full issue online.

Additional Stories

Man doing a balletic motion, with his leg raised into the air.

A bright future for classical ballet

St. Louis native Antonio Douthit-Boyd is breaking down barriers to ballet and finding new ways to bring dance into the community.

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An Arts & Sciences guide to hip-hop

Faculty members Jonathan Fenderson and Zachary Manditch-Prottas are uniting students from diverse disciplines in a rigorous study of hip-hop and rap, the predominant music of their generation.

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Emma Lembke goes to Washington

As a high school senior, Emma Lembke founded Log Off, a nonprofit to help young people develop healthy social media habits. The political science major discussed her decision to go to WashU, the benefits of a liberal arts education, and how she juggles activism and coursework.

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The language of the law

What does it take to become a federal district judge and the longest-serving female U.S. magistrate judge in the District of Puerto Rico? For Camille L. Vélez-Rivé, AB ‘89, many skills can be traced back to her time as an Arts & Sciences undergrad.

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Science for all

WashU’s chemistry chair, Jennifer Heemstra, shares a formula for scientific innovation — creating a culture where diversity thrives.

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An international legacy

James Wertsch, the David R. Francis Distinguished Professor, retires from Arts & Sciences with a legacy of international, interdisciplinary scholarship. Wertsch was the founding director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

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Communicating with history through literature

Gerhild Williams, the Barbara Schaps Thomas & David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities, concludes a tremendous career of leadership, community-building, and scholarship.

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Honoring exceptional alumni

Every year, Arts & Sciences recognizes a few alumni and supporters who demonstrate the ideals of a liberal arts education through their lives, work, and service. Meet the 2024 recipients.

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A blueprint for a better workplace

Adia Harvey Wingfield offers readers a deeper understanding of the subtle “gray areas” that can make or break our quest for racial equity at work.

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Around the Quad

News, milestones, and spotlights from across Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

  • Off to Oxford
    Tori Harwell recently became WashU’s 30th Rhodes Scholar, a prestigious honor that allows students the opportunity to earn an advanced degree at Oxford University.

  • Optimizing the ‘omics’
    Gary Patti will soon co-manage a new multi-omics production center set to analyze materials from six disease study sites across the country. 

  • Not-so-spooky sounds
    WashU researchers working with the St. Louis Wildlife Project are using a new method to identify urban bats.

  • Green energy guru
    Doctoral student Ashlynn Berry was one of just 60 graduate students selected by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to participate in a graduate student research fellowship. 

  • You don’t know yak
    An international team of researchers including Xinyi Liu and Fiona Marshall used ancient DNA and archaeology to trace the origins of domestic yak back 2,500 years.

  • Training investigators in AI
    The National Science Foundation is investing $3 million over the next five years in WashU’s AI-ACCESS research traineeship program.

  • A moral minefield
    Erin McGlothlin won the 2023 Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize for “The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Nonfiction.”

  • Welcoming a prize-winning poet
    Eduardo C. Corral will join the English department this fall, adding to the MFA program’s roster of award-winning faculty.

  • What’s in a name?
    Research by Ariela Schachter found that many online housing listings reflect implicit biases about neighborhoods based on racial and socioeconomic factors.

  • Where the wild viruses are
    A grant from the National Institutes of Health will allow Krista Milich, Michael Landis, and David Wang to model viral transmission dynamics among red colobus monkeys and their human neighbors.

  • Roots of diversity
    A study involving 43 research plots — including a swath of trees at WashU’s Tyson Research Center — fueled a global investigation into the power of underground fungi to shape forests.

  • Symbolic speech
    Matthew Hayes found Black legislators talk about race and civil rights more than their white colleagues and they often rely on powerful symbolism to connect with constituents.


In their course “Beats, Rhymes & Life: A Cultural History of Hip-Hop,” faculty members Jonathan Fenderson and Zachary Manditch-Prottas guide students through the world that shaped the music. They examine the rhythms, lyrics, and historical context behind the music and attempt to understand what the rise of this genre means for society today.

Past Issues

Fall 2023 — Features stories on Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Phillips, a popular course on cancer care, and research into the evolving nature of work.

Spring 2023 — Features stories on cutting-edge plant research, the relationship between technology and the mind, and the Divided City Initiative.

Fall 2022 — Features stories on environmental injustice, social media bots, and the digital mental health revolution.

Spring 2022 — Features stories on the beauty and power of disorder, using big data to study housing segregation, and the Arts & Sciences Strategic Plan.

Fall 2021 — Features stories on restorative justice in a University City school, the science of living with purpose, and the career of Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD '94.