librarian Michael Rogan displays an illustrated page from Musurgia
universalis, published in Rome in 1650, and intended by its
author, Athanasius Kircher, to be a compendium of all musical
Illuminating a Hidden Treasure
Digital project brings new respect to rare
When Michael Rogan came to Tufts three years ago, he was intrigued
by a secret buried deep in the music library stacks.
The Frédéric Louis Ritter Collection was not only
the single largest named special collection at Tufts but a sweeping
overview of music history, containing works from the 16th to the
19th centuries on all areas of musical interest—history, biography,
theory, composition and performance.
The more than 2,000 volumes include a 1558 book considered one of
the first on music theory, an 1869 Brahms edition of Couperin’s
keyboard works, first editions of Schubert and Schumann, important
scores of comedic operas, as well as Ritter’s own books on
harmony, composition and music history.
“What makes this collection significant is its size and that
it was gathered by one person who was using and studying the material,”
said Rogan. “Ritter was a professional musician and college
teacher, and so it reflects an individual’s cultural connection
with an unusual depth and breadth. It didn’t seem right that
a collection of this uniqueness was virtually unknown outside Tufts,
and that even Tufts students didn’t realize we had these remarkable
sources. The collection had too many strengths and offered too many
opportunities for study to be left languishing in obscurity.”
Now those worries are coming to an end, and with them, the long
silence imposed on the collection. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from
the Tufts University Berger Family Technology Transfer Endowment,
the collection will be introduced to the world in a collaboration
among Rogan, archivists and Tufts faculty.
Called “A Paradigm for Special Collections Access and Use,”
the project was crafted by Rogan with Jane Bernstein, Austin Fletcher
Professor of Music; Gregory Colati, director of the Digital Collections
and Archives; and Thomas Cox, web designer for the Tisch Library.
The proposal incorporates two themes: the practical necessity of
using the Internet to widen awareness about and access to fragile
primary source materials via an online finding aid, and a “real
time” dialogue about the music by making it part of Tufts’
To encourage that discourse, Tufts will invite nationally recognized
music scholars who are interested in enhancing teaching through
technology to speak on some aspect, score or historically important
volume from the collection. A website will be created containing
the selected items.
The invited scholars will be promoting the use of the collection
by highlighting its treasures, demonstrating new research and teaching
methods using technology, and providing a model for students about
Frédéric Louis Ritter, a noted scholar, composer and
conductor, was born and educated in Strasbourg. He immigrated to
the United States at 23 and was named the first professor of music
at Vassar College in 1867, serving until his death in 1891.
Ritter’s collection came to Tufts thanks to Albert Metcalf,
a Tufts trustee and avid supporter of music education at Tufts,
who purchased it at auction in the 1890s.
Rogan is optimistic that as the Ritter Collection continues to grow
in appreciation, so will its potential for innovative digital archiving,
discussion and research. He points to one of his favorites of the
collection, for instance, Rameau’s 1733 score for the opera,
Hippolyte et Aricie, which includes marginalia from an actual 18th-century
“It would be really exciting to reconstruct performances of
the pieces as they were played for their contemporaries,”
said Rogan. “We are also hoping that the website, which starts
with an index, could be developed into a more robust site that can,
for instance, include scores and their recordings. As a professional
musician, Ritter could just open a score and hear it instinctively.
But as a teacher, I think he would deeply appreciate a multimedia
resource like the web that would allow students at the beginning
of their inquiry to have the same advantage he had.” —Laura
Cholera on Closer Inspection
Innovative research methods yield new insights
about why this epidemic strikes with such deadly intensity
Among all the water-borne bacteria, Vibrio cholerae is in a class
Since it began spreading from Asia in the early 19th century, it
has struck Europe, North and South America, and Africa. The disease
explodes with the full force of an epidemic, killing through dehydration
brought on by diarrhea.
Andrew Camilli and his laboratory of four graduate students and
two postdoctoral fellows at Tufts Medical School, however, recently
made a major breakthrough that might assist in stopping future outbreaks
in their tracks. Such work may lead to a “designer vaccine”
that targets proteins expressed by the cholera bacteria at the beginning
of the infection process.
Reporting in the May edition of Nature, senior author Camilli found
that cholera bacteria appear to become even more infectious as they
pass through and exit the human intestinal tract. In fact, researchers
found that cholera bacteria were up to 100 times more infectious
than lab-grown cholera when injected into mice. The cholera remained
“hyperinfectious” hours after being put in a sample
of pond water.
“What we see as cholera bacteria essentially seems to gather
strength in the small intestine,” said Camilli, assistant
professor of molecular biology and microbiology. “Once those
bacteria are released by the human, usually back into another water
source, they have a powerful chance of spreading and infecting additional
victims, thus fueling the epidemic.”
The research comes as a result of nine years of fine-tuning a pioneering
method of identifying proteins expressed by the bacteria at the
beginning of infection, research that earned Camilli the Eli Lilly
and Co. Research Award, considered one of the most prestigious honors
bestowed on a young microbiologist.
Since joining Tufts in 1995, he has employed a method he started
as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. The method allows
the isolation of bacterial genes induced during infection by using
a recombinase reporter system. RIVET (recombination-based in vivo
expression technology) has proven to be a highly sensitive means
of identifying and tracking bacterial genes that are activated after
encounter with a host.
Camilli says characterizing the genes of the cholera bacteria in
transmission was a challenging case from the start. “The bacteria
can change their gene expression within minutes,” said Camilli.
“Thus, we worry that by the time you isolate the bacteria,
it’s too late to tell which genes were firing when.”
That’s a problem for developing an effective vaccine, he noted.
“When you make a vaccine to protect people, you will want
that vaccine to target the natural transmissible form of the organism.
We have a vaccine for cholera now, but it is only partially effective
because it was designed using laboratory-grown V. cholerae bacteria,
which aren’t expressing the same genes as the transmissible
In the past, characterizing cholera genetics was also research of
profound urgency. Today, death by dehydration is limited to about
1 percent of cholera victims, thanks to oral rehydration therapy.
But the disease consistently resurfaces. In the 1970s and 1980s,
epidemics broke out in the Middle East and Africa. During the 1990s
an epidemic that began in Peru spread across South America. And
most recently, an outbreak in Rwanda quickly reached a horrific
scale. After being crowded into camps, some 23,000 refugees died
from drinking contaminated water.
“The view that cholera is a disease we have under control
is a false one,” says Camilli. “There are still some
300,000 cases a year. Down the road, as populations increase in
Third World countries, we will see more outbreaks. Africa is now
the major continent for cholera, and if I had to place a bet, it’s
going to get worse.”
To better understand the development of infection, Camilli’s
lab did not study strains growing in their Boston laboratory, but
rather went to the source. They set up an international collaboration
with a research hospital in Bangladesh, where Dr. Camilli’s
graduate students collected rice-water stools, so-called because
the diarrhea looks like water in which rice has been cooked. Since
the rice-water stools are literally pure V. cholerae, the samples
have provided a snapshot of the bacteria as they are being transmitted.
In the laboratory, the researchers found that after passing through
the human gut, the cholera bacteria looked different. Looking at
RNA of the stool bacteria, they noticed a marked change in the gene
expression patterns compared to laboratory-grown bacteria. It appeared
that genes associated with movement and nutrient uptake were apparently
switched on at some point in the gut, while genes that restricted
movement were switched off.
That detailed genetic information, the first-ever characterization
of gene expression in the transmissible form of Vibrio cholerae,
may help researchers design new drug treatments and vaccines that
target pathogens as they appear in nature, thereby heading off epidemics.
But Camilli also sees other wide possibilities for research.
“This could be a paradigm for examining transmission of other
pathogens as well,” he said. “There are dozens of pathogen
species out there that spread from human to human either directly
or after a short time in the environment, and in each case it’s
possible that as they exit they are in a hyperinfectious state to
aid in transmission. The more you understand transmission the more
prepared you can be to intervene. We’ve only just opened the
door.” —Laura Ferguson
Interview: Jamshed Bharucha
will be working hard to enable the faculty to be as good as
it can be, to strengthen our research base, and to project
a strong and articulated academic reputation.”
Jamshed Bharucha became Tufts’ new provost on August 1 after
a 19-year career at Dartmouth College. As provost, he is “chief
academic officer,” working closely with President Lawrence
S. Bacow to oversee Tufts’ academic mission. To this task
he brings an unusual breadth of experience. At Dartmouth, he was
dean of the faculty and a teacher respected by students and colleagues
alike: he received Dartmouth’s Huntington Teaching Award and
held the John Wentworth Professorship in Psychological and Brain
Sciences. His research in the field of cognitive neuroscience has
established his reputation as an innovator, particularly in advancing
knowledge about music perception. His background and training undoubtedly
have made him eager to explore areas defined less by precedent than
Born in Bombay to an American mother and Indian father, he attended
the Bombay International School. From his mother, he developed an
early love for music; he remembers wandering among the pews at the
church where she practiced the organ. Today, he is an accomplished
violinist and relaxes by playing in chamber music groups. His father,
an engineer, encouraged a respect for science and rigorous scientific
inquiry. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College, Bharucha
earned a master’s in philosophy from Yale and a Ph.D. in psychology
from Harvard. Today, at age 46, he admits Tufts is a “leap”
from the familiarity of Dartmouth. But like most leaps, it has opened
up new possibilities, and it is with a characteristic love of challenge
that he looks forward to the questions as much as the answers.
One of your focuses at Tufts will be encouraging interdisciplinary
connections. How did your own career develop an interdisciplinary
As an undergraduate, I was interested in both the biological basis
of cognition as well as broader philosophical issues. My undergraduate
major was biopsychology, but I really wanted to explore the mind/brain
What is the mind/brain problem?
Well, we all have a mental life. We think, we remember, we feel,
and there are brain processes going on when these mental phenomena
occur. For a long time philosophers have been interested in the
relationship between brain phenomena and what we consider mental
phenomena. Today, we assume that cognition, or mental phenomena—thought,
emotion, language, perception—arise out of neural processes
in the brain. And yet to many people there is an unsettling disconnect
between the two. When you study neural processes, you’re talking
about chemical processes, electrophysiological processes, and they
don’t seem to capture the mental phenomena as we know them.
Is it possible that people are uncomfortable that there
might be no more mystery to the human experience?
Absolutely. On the other hand, for a scientist, that only enhances
the mystique because it raises so many other questions. The field
is ripe for philosophers to look at data from cognitive science
and try to advance our notions of consciousness and cognition, knowing
what we do about the brain. Every year we are learning more about
the neural basis of consciousness. Some claim that though eventually
we may understand all the processes that give rise to mental phenomenon,
we may not necessarily be equipped to grasp that relationship intuitively,
just as it’s very difficult to understand in an intuitive
way the findings in physics and astronomy about particles that are
too small to see or galaxies that are too far to imagine. My new
colleague at Tufts, the famous philosopher Dan Dennett, has written
a landmark book, Consciousness Explained, which takes on some of
When did you know you would pursue an academic career?
Courses I took in college were important influences; they made me
realize I wanted to spend my life around universities. What attracted
me to philosophy was that it gave me a rigorous platform to question
assumptions and normative ways of thinking. That is training that
everybody should get in the liberal arts experience: learning how
to question notions until you really understand them and can justify
them, or until you recognize that there’s more complexity
than was evident. What I realized after being in graduate school
in philosophy was that I missed science. Cognitive psychology and
the emerging fields of cognitive science and neuroscience were inherently
interdisciplinary and provided an opportunity to explore some philosophical
questions with scientific methods, so I switched.
You have also incorporated your love of music into your
research on music perception. Can you elaborate?
A fundamental error that is often made is thinking that cultural
influences and biological influences are distinct. The brain is
a highly malleable organ, and while it does come with genetically
programmed constraints, it has an extraordinary ability to adapt
to the environment. The process of acculturation is one in which
the brain alters its structure and function to internalize some
of the regularities in one’s physical and cultural environment.
That is why when you go to a completely different culture the sounds
and sights seem different. You perceive the sounds and sights through
neural filters that have developed through experience. Music is
a well-defined cognitive domain that provides a window into these
issues. My students and I have been using computational neural net
models to simulate the process by which the brain learns musical
patterns. More recently, we have been using functional MRI brain
imaging to track the neural basis of music perception and the process
What attracted you to Tufts?
It was the exciting opportunity presented by Larry Bacow. The provost
position was defined with great clarity, and the chance to work
directly with the president in advancing Tufts was attractive. Tufts
has the best of a liberal arts college and a research university,
and is thus well positioned as an institution looking to the future.
Today is my 30th day on the job and I’m just loving it. The
people I have met are extraordinary. I’ve been impressed with
their dedication to their work and to Tufts, and with their tremendous
What kind of attributes do you need to be a good provost?
I think it’s important to be a good listener; academic leadership
is not something that can be exercised only top-down. The faculty
in particular have an important stake in the institution; they determine
the quality of the learning experience for the student, and the
academic reputation, so moving an institution forward means listening
first. But that’s not enough. It also takes articulating some
strong themes and high expectations in ways that advance the institution.
It’s a combination of good listening and strong leadership.
Have you identified any central themes?
I would echo the themes that Larry Bacow has articulated. Building
a great institution means attracting great students and great faculty
and finding meaningful ways for them to feed off each other.
I will be working hard to enable the faculty to be as good as it
can be, to strengthen our research base, and to project a strong
and articulated academic reputation. That is going to involve raising
resources to make important investments; Tufts is a relatively under-resourced
institution with a lot of talent and a lot of potential. But it
also means being strategic. I will spend a lot of time trying to
identify strategic opportunities and working with students and faculty
to advance them.
A theme that is important to me is that Tufts can attract and develop
a unique kind of faculty member—a person who wants to build
a distinguished international career as a scholar, and who also
loves to inspire and mentor students. Not all great scholars are
good teachers or really take an interest in students. Not all great
teachers are great scholars. But I am convinced there are enough
people who have both talents. That is the magic formula. It means
providing faculty with resources and incentives to excel at both.
But it also means thinking about ways in which teaching and research
are not distinct activities, but rather an integrated, organic process
of learning for both students and faculty.
The most powerful learning experiences for students come not from
the classroom but from working closely with professors and other
students in the process of discovery and creation—in research
labs, studios, or through thesis or independent work. This kind
of active learning experience can only be provided by a faculty
who view themselves as both active scholars and devoted teachers,
and who welcome the chance to invite students into the creative
enterprise at the very leading edges of knowledge. I will seek to
maximize opportunities for our students to work with faculty in
Another important theme is to find ways to bring together students
and faculty from all our schools and campuses, to exploit synergies
that are latent. If we can provide a platform at Tufts for faculty
to realize their fullest potential as distinguished scholars and
inspiring teachers and mentors, and if we can link up students and
faculty across schools in the process, I think we have a winning
strategy. Tufts has the right size and attitude toward teaching
and research to be able to develop in a way that other great institutions
will seek to emulate.