Vir Das ’02 is 2018 Commencement Speaker

Dear Knox Community,

I am delighted to share the good news that we have a Commencement speaker—India’s premier comedian and Knox alumnus Vir Das ’02.

Since graduating from Knox in 2002, Vir has cemented himself as the biggest English-speaking comedian in India, as well as one of the country’s top actors, writers, musicians, and festival producers. Thanks to his Netflix comedy special, Vir Das: Abroad Understanding, and a recently announced Hulu comedy series, he is poised to break into the American entertainment world with his unique brand of humor.

Featured in The New York Times in 2011 as a one of a new set of emerging comedians in India, Vir is known for bringing an American style to topics rooted in contemporary Indian culture. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than a million tickets as a stand-up comedian, touring internationally with Unbelievablish, the largest domestic comedy tour ever by an Indian comedian; The History of India; and Battle of the Sexes. In the last year, Vir has traversed the globe, performing stand-up in 35 cities on five continents. He has also climbed the ranks of the Bollywood elite in various films, including BadMaash Company; Delhi Belly; Go, Goa, Gone; and Revolver Rani, gaining a reputation as a leading man with impeccable comedic chops. In addition to stand-up and acting, Vir leads his own multimedia consulting and production company, Weirdass Comedy.

While I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Vir while he was a student at Knox, I have enjoyed watching the trajectory of his career both in his home country of India and here in the United States. You can see in his approach to his comedic work, from stand-up and acting to writing and producing, that he is adept at navigating across cultures and overcoming stereotypes to provide his audiences with new perspectives on complicated issues and events.

I am particularly excited to make this announcement today, during Knox’s annual international week. Knox welcomed the first international student to campus in 1863, and, more than 150 years later, international students make up nearly 20 percent of our student body and come from 51 countries. Announcing an international alumnus as our Commencement speaker is a wonderful addition to the celebration of our vibrant international community.

You can read more about Vir on the College’s website.



Farrer Research Published

Ben Farrer’s (Environmental Studies) research “Explaining the nomination of ethnic minority candidates: how party-level factors and district-level factors interact”, co-authored with Josh Zingher, was recently published at the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties. The link is here:

The article was also covered by a number of blogs, here:

and here:

Behling Publishes Two Essays

Laura Behling (English) has published two essays in “Helping Students Identify Connections in their College Education,” was published January 30, 2018 and is available at “7 Key Ways to Make Student Mentoring Matter” was published October 27, 2017, with co-authors from Elon University and the U.S. Naval Academy. It is available at

Kasser Chapter Published

Tim Kasser (Psychology) recently had a chapter entitled “Materialism and Living Well” published in the Handbook of Well-being. Kasser’s chapter, as well as all the other chapters in the handbook, are Creative Commons licensed, which means that they are available free of charge. The Handbook is available at

Premiere for Polay Music

Nocturne for Solo Flute (2017), written by Bruce Polay (Music) will receive its world premiere at the Conservatorio de Música del Estado de México on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Sabina Laurain, principal flute of the State Orchestra of Mexico, will be the soloist on a program including works by Bozza, Doppler, and Prokofiev.

Ferrigno–Solo Exhibition at Iowa State University

Andrea Ferrigno’s (Art) solo exhibition “Synthesizer” is on display through January 29, 2018 at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. The show includes recent paintings, drawings and prints. A reception will be held January 29 from 6:30-8 p.m. with Benjamin Gardner in the Gallery and Edgard Camancho in the Multicultural Center.

Gidmark and Students Presented Research

Nicholas Gidmark (Biology) and Knox students, Kelsie Pos ’18, and Joel Vargeese ’18, recently presented research at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, an international conference.

Gidmark’s presentation was titled: A laboratory exercise for Physiology and Comparative Anatomy teaching that leverages the power of 3D printing.

Pos’ presentation was titled: A comparative investigation of evolutionary history versus dietary niche in shaping pharyngeal jaw skeletal structure in cyprinid fishes.

Vargeese’s presentation was titled: Large bite forces maintained across gapes may evade length-tension constraints due to the muscular dynamics in the masticatory system of the primate Macaca mulatta.

Kasser Book Published

Tim Kasser (Psychology) recently had a book published by The New Press; it is titled Hypercapitalism: The modern economy, its values, and how to change them. Kasser’s co-author is a well-known cartoonist, Larry Gonick. The whole book is told in cartoon format. You can learn more here and read a review here.

Nick Adams Short Story Entries Deadline is Jan. 26

The English Department invites entries for the The NICK ADAMS SHORT STORY CONTEST 2018

(an annual contest sponsored by the ACM and dating back to 1973)


1. Entrants must be enrolled students in good standing at Knox but need not be English majors or enrolled in an English course.

2. Submissions are limited to one story per author.

3. Submitted stories need not be written especially for the contest, but stories cannot have been previously published off campus.

(Note: publication in an on-campus journal or winning an on-campus prize does not exclude a story from entry.)

4. Entries must be double-spaced and paginated. Each submission must also include, as part of the same document, a title page with the author’s name, complete contact information, and the title of the story. Do not include your name in headers/footers on the story proper.

5. Please save file as YourName.doc or YourName.docx, and submit as an attachment to Do not share the file on google drive.

6. Each submitted manuscript is limited to 10,000 words.


Entries must be received electronically (.doc or .docx only to by Thursday, January 26 by 4 p.m.


For more information on the history of the contest, and to read about this year’s judge who will be announced soon, see the ACM’s website here.

Please direct questions to Chad Simpson ( ext. 7408) or Cyn Fitch (, ext. 7269).