April 25, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 14

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    In the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site at: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Wen-Hsiung Li, the George Beadle Professor in Ecology & Evolution, was the lead investigator in a study on the rate of genetic mutation in males and females, and the results of that study were the subject of several news articles published Thursday, April 11, by the Chicago Tribune, The Globe and Mail and USA Today. Exploring what drives evolutionary change in humans, Li and co-investigator Kataryna Makova found that males have a higher rate of genetic mutation than do females. The study also shows that these mutations are caused mainly by random errors that occur during cell divisions and not because of environmental factors. “Since mutations occur in the male germ line, then replication errors are important and environmental factors are less important,” said Li in The Globe and Mail.

    Recent research by David Galenson, Professor in Economics and the College, published in his book Painting Outside the Lines, was the topic of articles that appeared in the Gallup Management Journal and the Friday, April 19 Chronicle of Higher Education. Using a standard tool of statistical research, Galenson quantified the creativity of artists, from the impressionists of the late-19th century to the pop artists of the 1960s. He found that these artists fell into two categories––conceptual innovators and experimental innovators. “I could put the prices of paintings into the computer, and from the results could predict what the artist said about his work and how he made preparatory drawings,” said Galenson in the Chronicle piece.

    David Tracy, the Andrew Thomas Greeley & Grace McNichols Greeley Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School, commented in a Monday, April 8 New York Times article on the recent sexual abuse charges against Catholic priests, which has grown into a major crisis that has prompted the Pope to call cardinals to a summit in Rome. Speaking on church officials’ practice of moving priests accused of sexual abuse from one parish to another and how that practice must be changed, Tracy said: “The situation is so grave that only some kinds of serious moves, both symbolically and practically, can really address it. This is absolutely shocking and horrendous.”

    Roman Weil, the V. Duane Rath Professor of Accounting in the Graduate School of Business, commented in a Tuesday, April 16 New York Times story on Arthur Andersen’s Denver audit group reaching a tentative agreement to join Andersen rival company KPMG. Weil stated that the defection in Denver could prompt Andersen accountants in other cities to take the same action, at a time when Andersen needs to retain as many of its accountants as possible for its survival.

    The University’s Chicago Initiative capital campaign launch received coverage in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times on Saturday, April 13, the day after President Randel announced its $2 billion goal. “This is in its nature a costly business,” said Randel in a full-page Sun-Times Metro-section story. “It is not just for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. It’s for the sake of what we bring to society and the world.”

    Michael Turner, the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, commented as an expert source for several Thursday, April 11 stories that reported on a study of objects that previously were thought to be neutron stars. The study, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope, has found that these objects offer evidence of a new form of matter and a new kind of star. Observations from the telescope showed that emissions from the objects were too small and too cold to be made up of neutrons and indicate the matter may be made up of quarks. “Regardless of how these mysteries are resolved, these precise observations are highly significant. They demonstrate our ability to use the universe as a laboratory where we can study some of the most fundamental questions of physics,” said Turner about the discovery in the New York Times article. The Associated Press, USA Today and The Washington Post also published stories on the quark stars.

    Abner Mikva, Visiting Professor in the Law School, was quoted in The Washington Post Friday, April 5, in a story that reported on Thomas White’s controversial flights to Washington D.C. White, a former Enron Corp. employee and current Army secretary, traveled on Enron-financed flights while his nomination in the Bush administration was pending.

    James Schrager, Clinical Professor in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a front-page business-section story in the April 7 Chicago Tribune about the new management strategy at Sears, Roebuck and Co. “It’s cocktail party chatter, not a strategy,” Schrager said. “It’s not measurable because we don’t know what the ëwhats’ are––what customers want more of and what they don’t. Sears’ strategy has to be about how to grow given the incredible competitiveness of the current retail world.”

    Milan Mrksich, Associate Professor in Chemistry, and the biochip research he recently conducted to analyze carbohydrates, was the subject of a story published in the Monday, April 8 issue of Crain’s Chicago Business.

    Douglas Baird, the Harry A. Bigelow Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a Friday, April 12 Chicago Tribune story that reported on the options open to Arthur Andersen––with bankruptcy being one option––as the struggling accounting firm and its partners try to survive. “When you are made a partner, typically the firm will lend you money to buy your share of the partnership. If you are a young partner at Andersen, the partnership you bought is worth less, but you still have to pay the money back.”

    Youqin Wang, Senior Lecturer in East Asian Languages & Civilizations, was featured in the Friday, April 12 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Wang (featured in The University of Chicago Chronicle, Nov. 15, 2001) has documented the stories of more than 700 educators who were killed or committed suicide as a result of torture during the Cultural Revolution in China. The stories of these educators can be found on her Chinese Holocaust Memorial Web site: http://www.chinese-memorial.org. “We have a problem in our culture,” said Wang of China. “We never remember our history.”

    Alumnus and retired Associate Professor Roy Mackal (S.B., ’49, Ph.D.,’53) was featured in the Christian Science Monitor Tuesday, April 9, about his travels across the world in search of unidentified animals. Some of these animals, such as the okapi, a cross between a giraffe and a zebra, are thought to be nothing more than the creations of imagination until they are discovered. “There are large areas on the earth and in the oceans that have never been explored. Who knows what might be living there?” said Mackal, who recently was doing research in Central West Africa.