Alumni Notes July 2021

Tulips on Campus

Sam Belisle, MFA18, and Cal Rice have started Nearby Gallery in Newton Centre. The gallery includes works by graduates of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, including Kathryn Gearon, MFA18; William Van Beckum, MFA17; and Teddy Benfield, MFA18. For more on Belisle, check out his personal website

Glenn Bell, E74, E06P, EG08P, an internationally renowned structural engineer and engineering leader, has been honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). As a distinguished member, he is recognized as a visionary leader whose expertise spans structural design, earthquake engineering, and forensic engineering. He is also the co-founder of the ASCE Forensic Engineering Division and Confidential Reporting of Seismic Safety–U.S. The principal and structural engineer of record on hundreds of projects, he has passed on his technical knowledge in his teaching role at Tufts and MIT, and as visiting scholar at the University of Bath in the UK. Read about the rewards of his career as a structural engineer as he reflects on serving as president of the Structural Engineering Institute.

Valerie Bolling, J87, is a winner of a 2021 Crystal Kite Award (New England) for Let’s Dance! (Boyds Mills & Kane, 2020), a picture book that features dances from around the world and children of diverse backgrounds. The Society of Children’s Book Writers presents the annual awards to authors and Illustrators of books that represent excellence in the field of children’s literature. Bolling has other books on the way: two next year, five in 2023, and one, so far, in 2024; check out her work at

Neil Cohn, AG10, AG12, is the author of the recently published book Who Understands Comics?: Questioning the Universality of Visual Language Comprehension. Cohn received an M.S. and a Ph.D. in psychology at Tufts and is an associate professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, where he runs the Visual Language Lab. In the book, he argues that although comics are increasingly used for communications in humanitarian, educational, and experimental contexts, it’s wrong to assume that they are universally comprehended.

Leah Flickinger, J88, edited the story “Twelve Minutes and a Life” by Mitchell S. Jackson, which won the Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Award for feature writing. The article, published in Runner's World in June 2020, tells the story of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery while he was out for a run. Flickinger is the director of content at Hearst Enthusiast Group, a division that publishes Runner's World, Bicycling, and Popular Mechanics. 

Meron Langsner, AG11, an award-winning playwright and performance scholar and noted theater educator, shares that his play, Bystander 9/11: A Theatre Piece Concerning the Events of September 11, 2001, has been published in an acting edition by YouthPLAYS, a leading publisher of educational theater. The play, performed in 2004 and 2007 at Tufts, has also been anthologized by Bloomsbury.

Julie Salamon, J75, A11P, A16P, building on a celebrated career as a journalist and author (Wall Street JournalNew York Times, 11 books), is enjoying a creative shift to the audio world, “requiring me to learn how to tell a story for the ear instead of the printed page,” she writes. For Audible Originals, she narrates Unlikely Friends, a book about her “odd childhood”—the daughter of Holocaust survivors growing up in a rural town in southern Ohio. Her 1990 book The Devil’s CandyThe Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco, about Brian De Palma’s adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, is the focus of season two of the podcast series The Plot Thickens, with Salamon teaming up with fellow Jumbo Ben Mankiewicz, A89, as co-hosts. And through Tantor Media, Salamon is also narrating an audiobook version of the book, considered a classic of life inside Hollywood.

Trina Spear, A05, and Heather Hasson set a New York Stock Exchange milestone in June when their firm was the first led by women co-founders to go public. FIGS introduced direct-to-consumer health-care apparel that offers comfort, durability, function, and style. Read more about their entrepreneurial success story in Fortune.