Jan. 8, 2004 – Vol. 23 No. 7

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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 Sunday, Dec. 28 Chicago Tribune article reported that several lines from Mark Strand’s poem “Five Dogs” now appear on a billboard near Chicago Avenue and Wells Street. Strand, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry award for the book Blizzard of One, in which the poem “Five Dogs” appears. The lines, which read: “You there, / Come with me into the world of light and be whole, / For the love you thought had been dead a thousand years / Is back in town,” will remain on the billboard for one month.

    Three of the year’s biggest scientific stories originated at Chicago or became increasingly recognized in the media through the work of University scholars, according to Discover magazine’s guide to the top 100 science stories of 2003. Generated from the field of archaeology, the news of ancient Babylonian artifacts being stolen from the Iraq museum during the American invasion and the efforts to recover the items, and the discovery of Bronze Age roads being revealed in Cold War spy photographs are two events in which University researchers were involved. The third news story came about through the work of paleontologist Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, and announced the finding of a new dinosaur fossil that proved to be a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex. The discovery of the new fossil, named Rajasaurus, was found in India.

    Chicago Magazine named Clemens Reichel, Research Associate in the Oriental Institute, one of seven Chicagoans of the Year 2003. Reichel was recognized for creating a Web site at the Oriental Institute that may have been instrumental in the recovery of ancient Babylonian artifacts stolen from the Iraq museum. The museum had been looted following the U.S. military’s invasion of Baghdad in April. “When I saw the terrible pictures of the looting there, I felt like somebody had trampled on sacred ground,” said Reichel. Currently, more than 2,000 missing items have been recovered outside of Iraq, and the museum’s director general Donny George praised the Web site Reichel created.

    Craig Futterman, Clinical Associate Professor in the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the Law School, who was lead counsel for nearly 300 plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the city of Chicago, was quoted in a Friday, Dec. 19 Chicago Tribune article on the lawsuit. The suit alleged that police illegally searched individuals during an annual basketball tournament held at the Chicago Housing Authority’s Stateway Gardens Complex. Futterman said of the tentative half-million dollar settlement: “It sent a loud and clear message that there was no attempt to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys in the context of a treasured community institution. The bad news is this was a mass example in the community of what residents view on a daily basis,” said Futterman. The case and settlement also were reported in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Defender.

    Research conducted by Sonia Cavigelli, Research Fellow in Psychology, and Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology, was the subject of articles published in the Washington Times, The Independent in the United Kingdom and in U.S. News & World Report. The study, titled “Fear of Novelty in Infant Rats Predicts Adult Corticosterone Dynamics and an Early Death,” which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, found that fear of novelty may shorten the lifespan. Studying the rats, researchers discovered that the more fearful rats, which were introduced to new objects, died sooner than those that were not as fearful of their new surroundings.

    Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, announced his discovery of a new pterosaur fossil at a news conference at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Many news sources, including WGN-TV, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times, covered the event and published or broadcast stories about the discovery between Friday, Dec. 19 and Tuesday, Dec. 23. The conservatory, which currently houses an exhibition titled “Giants: African Dinosaurs” that features other species Sereno has discovered, displays a life-size model of the pterosaur, a 110-million-year-old flying beast with a wingspan of 16 feet and nail-like teeth.

    Marvin Zonis, Professor of Business Administration in the Graduate School of Business, wrote an op-ed that was published Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the Chicago Tribune. Zonis wrote that while the capture of Saddam Hussein and the end of his regime is a U.S. victory, the problems that today still exist and grow increasingly tense in the Middle East are far from a victorious resolution. Zonis wrote that the political climate in Pakistan is the most dangerous of all, while terrorist activities in surrounding countries continue to threaten the Bush administration’s attempts to democratize the Arab world. “The struggle to create a new pluralist and unified Iraq continues,” wrote Zonis. “Victory over Hussein is a source of great pleasure. But that pleasure must be set against the wider context of the region and the intractability of its problems.”

    Jeff Frank, Associate Professor in Neurology, was quoted in a Wednesday, Dec. 17 Chicago Tribune story that reported on traumatic brain injuries and how such injuries dramatically change the lives of those injured. “In critical care, the decisions are life and death decisions. In neuro-intensive care, it’s a more complicated dynamic. It’s not, ‘Will the patient live or die?’ but, ‘What does the patient want to live with?’ Brain injury is unique, because it affects personhood,” said Frank.

    Eric Posner, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor in the Law School, described the upcoming trials of Saddam Hussein, who is being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, in a front-page Chicago Tribune article published Thursday, Dec. 18. “In a way, these are political trials, not real criminal trials. The purpose of these trials is not like a conventional trial, to ascertain whether someone is guilty and provide the correct punishment,” he said. “A political trial is designed to send a message. The message here, I assume, is that Saddam is a tyrant and it’s a good thing we’re rid of him.”