Nov. 30, 2000
Vol. 20 No. 6

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    Alexander Beilinson, Professor in Mathematics, shares the 1999 Ostrowski Prize with Helmut Hofer of New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The 1999 prize was awarded this past summer at the University of Basel in Switzerland.

    Beilinson received the prize for achievements in representation theory, arithmetic geometry and modern mathematical physics. The prize carries an award of 150,000 Swiss francs (approximately $87,000), and two fellowships each of 30,000 Swiss francs.

    The Ostrowski Prize is awarded every other year by the Ostrowski Foundation, which was created by Alexander Ostrowski, a longtime professor at the University of Basel. Ostroswki left his estate to the foundation in order to establish a prize for outstanding achievements in pure mathematics and the foundations of numerical mathematics.

    The prize jury consists of representatives from the universities of Basel, Jerusalem and Waterloo, and from the academies of Denmark and the Netherlands.

    Scott Burles, Research Associate in Astronomy & Astrophysics, has received the Robert Trumpler Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for the year 2000 for an outstanding Ph.D. thesis.

    The Trumpler award goes to a recent Ph.D. recipient whose research is considered unusually important to astronomy. Burles received his Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of California, San Diego, for work with his adviser, David Tytler, on a precise measurement of the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio left over from the big bang. This ratio is important because it helps astronomers determine how much ordinary matter–that made of protons and neutrons–they should be able to see in the universe. Astronomers believe the vast majority of ordinary matter is dark, or invisible, to astronomers.

    Before 1997, a large and confusing range of values had been reported for the primordial deuterium abundance. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific cited Burles for convincingly demonstrating in his dissertation a relatively low value for the ratio using data from distant quasars. This value, when taken in connection with various astronomical observations, provides compelling evidence for the existence of an exotic form of dark matter that is not made of protons and neutrons, according to the society.

    Burles came to Chicago in 1997 to work on the interpretation of his deuterium measurement and its implication for the amount of ordinary matter in the universe with Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Physics, and the late David Schramm, former Vice President for Research and the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in the Physical Sciences. In September 2001, Burles plans to join the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in physics.

    Bennett Leventhal, Professor in Psychiatry and Pediatrics, has been honored with the Bayer Institute Outstanding Physician Communicator Award, which recognized his communication skills and the positive influence these skills have on patient care.

    “Dr. Leventhal’s extraordinary patient relationships are testimony to the power of combining outstanding technical competency with excellent communication skills,” said J. Gregory Carroll, director of the Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication. “The Bayer Institute applauds Dr. Leventhal and all physicians who understand that effective communication is more than just good bedside manner.”

    The Bayer Institute sponsors this annual search to recognize physicians who pair clinical competence with good communication skills to provide exceptional patient care. Nominees for this award are judged in four areas: engagement, empathy, education and enlistment. Parents of Leventhal’s patients and his colleagues offered insights in support of his nomination. U.S. Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary for Health David Satcher was the 1999 award recipient.

    Paolo Cherchi, Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures, has been awarded the Giuseppe DessĪ prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in Italy.

    Now in its 15th year, the Giuseppe DessĪ prize annually confers three $5,000 awards–one for poetry, one for narrative and a special prize for a book selected on the basis of its originality and meaningfulness. On Oct. 8, Cherchi was named as recipient of this year’s special prize for Herostraticon–Medaglioni di Astripeti (AEDES: Sassari, 2000), a work of fiction that presents a series of meditations on provincial would-be writers, all seduced by the allure of literary glory.

    Cherchi described the style of the book as “mock-epic.” He said the citation he received underlined its “irresistible comical nature” as the factor that led to its selection for the special award.

    “It uses an arcane type of erudition to enhance the stature of pathetic authors who pursue the strangest of literary projects–writing encyclopedias about the art of lovemaking, epic poems, essays on why Dante never mentions his wife in The Divine Comedy, biographies of ancient dogs, diaries, novels and even cookbooks,” he explained.

    The prize is named for Italian novelist Giuseppe DessĪ, and is sponsored by the regional government of Sardinia and by the town of Villacidro, DessĪ’s birthplace.

    Marta Ptaszynska, Professor in Music, has been awarded by the Polish government a special diploma for outstanding contributions to Polish culture. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, presented Ptaszynska with the citation during a ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 29.

    The National Opera in Warsaw, Poland, celebrated last month its 50th presentation of Ptaszynska’s opera, Mister Marimba. The work has enjoyed phenomenal success–tickets for performances through the end of the year have sold out. “I was informed by the conductor that there is even a Society of Friends of Mister Marimba in Warsaw,” said Ptaszynska.

    Ptaszynska traveled to New York for a retrospective concert of her music at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College. The performance included Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, Liquid Light, Cadenza, Classical Variations and the premiere of Letter to the Sun, Ptaszynska’s newest work.