January 6, 2005
Vol. 24 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/.

    Philip Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Music and the College, and his scholarship on Italian opera were featured in Saturday, Dec. 18 and Sunday, Dec. 19 news reports about his recent $1.5 million Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Gossett, an expert on the Italian composers Rossini, Donizetti and Verdi, works with their original manuscripts as well as previously edited versions of the compositions, which were once rewritten to fit then-current musical tastes. Gossett and his colleagues reconcile various versions to create critical definitive editions that are as close as possible to the composers’ original intentions for the operas. The Chicago Sun-Times story noted that Gossett and his team of researchers have completed 12 of 33 projected volumes of Verdi’s work and more than 30 volumes of an expected 70 for Rossini. “I’ll never get through the Rossini,” said Gossett. “But the Verdi—I’m hoping. Particularly with this grant.” Stories also appeared on the Associated Press newswires and in the Chicago Tribune.

    Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy, and his colleagues from China were featured in several news segments that reported on the three species of dinosaurs they discovered in Mongolia. The broadcasts aired on WBBM-TV, WFLD-TV and WBBM-AM Radio Thursday, Dec. 16, and Friday, Dec. 17. Sereno and his colleagues were featured in the news reports for their collaborative paleontology work, including their forthcoming expedition to Tibet in the summer. Announcements about the Mongolian discoveries and Sereno’s next expedition also were published in the Friday, Dec. 17 Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Sereno’s colleagues, Chinese paleontologists Zhao Xijin, Guo Zhanying and Tan Lin, visited Sereno’s Chicago laboratory in December.

    Clemens Reichel, Research Associate in the Oriental Institute, and McGuire Gibson, Professor in the Oriental Institute, were interviewed on a WBEZ-FM Radio segment about archaeology in Iraq and their recent grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund a new Web site for antiquities. The news segment aired Friday, Dec. 17.

    The results of a study conducted by Nicolas Dauphas, Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College and an associate with the Field Museum, show that samples of nearly 4-billion-year-old rocks found in Greenland could contain evidence of early life. “My results show unambiguously that the rocks are sediment deposited at the bottom of an ocean,” not igneous rock cooled from a molten state, said Dauphas. Working with colleague Meenakshi Wadhwa, associate curator in the Field Museum’s geology department, Dauphas used a mass spectrometer to analyze iron isotopes in the rock that would not have changed over the years. The age of the rocks and their high concentrations of iron are fascinating scientists. Iron needs oxygen, a bedrock of life, in order to form. The research was featured in a Chicago Sun-Times article that appeared Friday, Dec. 17.

    Time magazine featured research by Chun-Su Yuan, the Cyrus Tang Professor in Anesthesiology & Critical Care and Director of the Tang Center for Chinese Herbal Medicine, and colleagues in its list of the most important medical breakthroughs of the year. Yuan’s study, which appeared in the Monday, Dec. 6 issue, showed that ginseng, which is widely used to boost energy, can disrupt the effects of the blood-thinning drug warfarin, prescribed for millions of heart-attack patients. Because warfarin’s dosage must be precise—too little can lead to clotting and too much can cause bleeding—any substance that alters its potency can have serious consequences.

    Alumna Jennifer Voitle (M.B.A.,’98) appeared in a segment of Dateline NBC that aired Sunday, Dec. 12. Voitle’s career as a mystery shopper allows her to be wined and dined on company money, while also being paid to evaluate businesses on their customer service. Voitle earned her degree in analytic finance from the University’s Graduate School of Business.

    Discover magazine selected research by Jan Marino Ramirez, Associate Professor of Organismal Biology & Anatomy, as one of the top science stories of the year. Coming in at No. 37, Ramirez and his research team found the specific group of neurons that are responsible for gasping and what happens to these cells when they are deprived of oxygen. Since gasping resets the normal breathing pattern for babies, the scientists suspect that a malfunction in these respiratory pacemakers is the cellular mechanism that leads to SIDS.

    The research of Gary Becker, University Professor in Economics, was noted as a precursor to economic research on religion in a Monday, Dec. 6 BusinessWeek article. Becker, who has applied economics to the study of crime, drugs and family interactions, has paved the way for a new generation of economists who are now shedding light on how people “buy” and “sell” the goods and services—both material and spiritual—that religious organizations provide. One of those new-generation economists, alumnus Laurence Iannaccone (S.M.,’76, A.M.,’82, Ph.D.,’84), is applying economics to the study of religious terrorism. Iannaccone, who studied under Becker while attending the University, was quoted, and his research was noted in the article. The ideas of Milton Friedman, the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics, also were mentioned in the article.

    Research conducted by David Mazziotti, Assistant Professor in Chemistry and the College, was the subject of a Wednesday, Dec. 22 Chicago Sun-Times story. Mazziotti has developed a mathematical algorithm to calculate the properties of molecules using a single pair of electrons. Mazziotti’s research results have been published in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in Physical Review Letters. The calculation method he designed can enable scientists to break free from the need to represent the motion of all the electrons inside a molecule they are studying. Using Maziotti’s guidelines, scientists can accurately compute the properties of molecules while saving computing power and resources.

    University physicians Madelyn Kahana, Professor and Section Chief of Critical Care Medicine in Pediatrics, and McKay McKinnon, Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery in Surgery, were recognized in news reports for their successful surgical removal of a 160-pound tumor from a Romanian woman, as well as the removal of a 200-pound tumor from a Michigan woman. The surgery performed on the 47-year-old Romanian mother Lucica Bunghez and her successful recovery will be broadcast on the Discovery Health Channel. Reports on the surgery appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and on WLS-TV and WBBM-TV in Chicago. Kahana said of both women who underwent surgery: “They were both emaciated. The tumor becomes a giant parasite, and they were literally being taken over.”

    Midwest Construction magazine has named the Chicago Graduate School of Business Hyde Park Center as the Project of the Year in the Higher Education/Research category of its architectural awards. The University’s Gerald Ratner Athletics Center also was recognized by Midwest Construction magazine’s Best of 2004 Awards, cited as the best overall project of the year.