Oct. 9, 2003 – Vol. 23 No. 2

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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: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    John Coetzee, Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, was the subject of news reports on Thursday, Oct. 2, when he became the 2003 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Coetzee, who declined media interviews, previously won Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, twice—once in 1983 and again in 1999. Agence France-Press filed stories on Coetzee’s prize from Chicago, Stockholm and Johannesburg, and The New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune each published stories in their Friday, Oct. 3 editions. Coetzee’s Chicago colleague Jonathan Lear, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College, was interviewed for The New York Times story. “One of the things he looks at, which other people including myself lack the courage to look at, is human cruelty and insensitivity as it occurs in all sorts of contexts. If you read his work, it’s really a surgical, clinical diagnosis of what’s going on here, and it’s not pretty. On the other hand, he has an amazing human passion that is very clear even when he’s describing the worst things people do to one another. He’s asking what are the conditions of our salvation and damnation.”

    The University’s recent award of $17 million for a biosafety laboratory to study infectious diseases was reported by the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune Tuesday, Sept. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 1. Tom Rosenbaum, Vice President for Research and Argonne National Laboratory, the James Franck Professor in Physics and the College, was quoted in the reports, as was James Madara, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division, and the Richard T. Crane Professor in the BSD and the Pritzker School of Medicine.

    A Monday, Sept. 29 visit by Donnie George, director of research for the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities, to the University’s new Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery at the Oriental Institute was covered by the Chicago media, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, WGN-TV, Fox-TV, WBBM-AM radio, WBEZ-FM radio, WTTW-TV and CLTV. George discussed in a press conference at the Oriental Institute the status of Iraq’s archaeological heritage and the work of Oriental Institute scholars to protect it. The reports were published and broadcast on Tuesday, Sept. 30. The Chicago Tribune published a related story on the Mesopotamian gallery, which is scheduled to open Saturday, Oct. 18. “A large portion of the material in the museum in Baghdad was excavated by Chicago scientists,” said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute.

    Robert Pape, Associate Professor in Political Science and the College, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Monday, Sept. 22 New York Times. Pape, who has been compiling data on suicide bombings that occurred around the world between the years 1980 and 2001, described what he has found thus far in his research. “The data show there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any religion for that matter,” he wrote. “Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel liberal democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.”

    Arno Mundt, Assistant Professor and Residency Program Director in Radiology & Cell Oncology, was interviewed for an article that appeared in the Friday, Sept. 26 Chicago Sun-Times. The article reported on a new radiation therapy being used for its preciseness in killing cancer cells with fewer side effects occurring in patients. “It’s the first major advancement in radiation in a lot of generations,” said Mundt of the new intensity-modulated radiotherapy machine, better known as IMRT.

    Charles Lipson, Associate Professor in Political Science and the College, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Sunday, Sept. 28 Chicago Tribune. Lipson described the current occupation of American troops in Iraq and argued that the Bush administration did not plan in advance for what has become a chaotic situation in Iraq. While Lipson wrote he believes “Washington is deeply committed to rebuilding Iraq,” he also wrote that the administration downplayed the looming problems of securing the country and resuming basic services for its people.

    Mark Courtney, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Director of Chapin Hall Center for Children, was quoted in a story published in the Tuesday, Sept. 30 Chicago Tribune. Courtney discussed a study on welfare reform, which he co-authored with faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty. The study found that people who enrolled in the Milwaukee County workfare program continued to suffer from personal and economic hardships despite increased income and additional cash assistance. “We’re not seeing much evidence that the services are really significantly improving the lives of these people. They’re not getting worse, but they’re not getting better,” said Courtney.

    Alan Kolata, Chairman of Anthropology and the Neukom Family Professor in Anthropology and the College, was quoted in a story published in the Thursday, Sept. 25 Chicago Tribune. The article described how farmers in Alto Catacha on Lake Titicaca in Peru are reviving an ancient farming technique called waru waru, which protects crops and increases yields. Kolata, who has rebuilt raised fields attributed to the ancient Tiwanaku culture, has determined that the technique dates back to about A.D. 500.