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/.

    A study on how sleep benefits learning, which was conducted by University researchers, was the subject of several news stories carried Wednesday, Oct. 8, by the Associated Press Newswires, published Thursday, Oct. 9, in The New York Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and broadcast Thursday, Oct. 9, by WGN-TV, WBBM-TV, CNN and the BBC. University researchers Kim Fenn, Howard Nusbaum, Professor in Psychology, and Daniel Margoliash, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, were cited in the stories. “We all have the experience of going to sleep with a question and waking up with the solution,” said Margoliash in the AP story. The research was published in the journal Nature.

    Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor in Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Tuesday, Oct. 7 Chicago Tribune article that reported on conglomerates, such as Motorola Inc. and Campbell Soup Co., spinning off some of their smaller companies as independent operations. Kaplan noted that such transactions could have either positive or negative results. “From a shareholder perspective, these transactions are, on average, good news. But, with any kind of transaction—sometimes things turn out well, sometimes they turn out badly.” He added that such a move makes sense when the business being spun off is constrained in some way.

    Louis Philipson, Professor of Endocrinology in Medicine, was interviewed for a story about diabetes and how this disease is reaching epidemic levels, especially among minorities. The story, published in the Wednesday, Oct. 8 Chicago Tribune, covered a study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and inactivity, two increasing trends in American lifestyles, are the two leading causes of Type-2 diabetes, and many doctors, according to Philipson, are beginning to treat it with a pharmaceutical approach. “Fifty years from now, people will look back on today and think that we’re absolutely nuts. All of these drugs, costing thousands of dollars a year, are replacing a healthy lifestyle,” said Philipson.

    Ian Foster, Professor in Computer Science and the College and a scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, was interviewed for a Monday, Sept. 2 Chicago Tribune story about the international data grid, a supercomputing grid that is being built to link thousands of computers, so scientists can manage and share the enormous amount of data they collect. “The goal is to accelerate the handling of the dramatic increase in the amount of data scientists have to deal with,” said Foster, who is known as the “father of the data grid.” “In the face of this data explosion, the capability of an individual scientist to actually ask and obtain answers to interesting questions has become challenging. The data grid will allow them to get answers by harnessing large numbers of computing and storage resources to perform their computations.” Foster also was cited in a Monday, Oct. 6 Chicago Sun-Times story about the recent Chicago Innovation Awards, regarding his role in developing the Globus Toolkit, another grid computing tool.

    Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in a Sunday, Oct. 12 Chicago Tribune story that described increasing health care costs as the leading cause of labor disputes between companies and their employees or employee unions. Goolsbee noted that as the price of health care doubles every five years, companies are looking for any way to cut this expense. “If your wages were doubling every five years it would be unbelievable,” said Goolsbee.

    Dali Yang, Associate Professor in Political Science and the College, commented on Chinese astronaut (taikonaut) Yang Liwei’s safe return to Earth and what China’s Shenzhou V space mission means for the nation and its president Hu Jintao. Chicago’s Yang said the mission “is not just a matter of technological achievement. It also appears to be a milestone in the leadership transition”—referring to Hu’s prominence in the state media prior to the mission’s launch and the absence of his predecessor Jiang Zemin, head of the military, which controls the space program. Yang was quoted in stories that appeared in USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor.

    Ellen Rudnick, Executive Director of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Clinical Professor in Entrepreneurship in the Graduate School of Business, was the subject of a feature that appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 16 Chicago Sun-Times. The feature highlighted Rudnick’s career history and her current work in training GSB students in entrepreneurship. “We have about 14 classes in entrepreneurship, some classroom courses and many experiential learning courses, where students learn by doing. One of those is our business plan competition, which Professor Steve Kaplan started. Out of that competition, over 30 companies have been launched. Not all of them still exist, but I bet we have a better track record than some of the venture capital firms.”

    Michael Turner, the Bruce V. & Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, is featured in an interview in the November issue of Astronomy magazine. Turner talked about cosmology and where this area of research is heading. “Today’s big ideas all involve intimate connections between the elementary particles and the biggest things in the universe—dark matter made of a new type of particle, cosmic acceleration due to a new form of ‘dark energy,’ and quantum fluctuations during inflation seeding all the structure seen in the universe today,” said Turner.