October 6, 2005
Vol. 25 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/.

    Stories announcing the University’s recipients of the 2005 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants—Kevin Murphy, the George J. Stigler Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, and Olufunmilayo Olopade, Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics—appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune Tuesday, Sept. 20, as well as being carried by the Associated Press newswire service. Olopade is leading studies on breast cancer and focusing primarily on the molecular genetics of breast cancer in women of African heritage. “To have an opportunity to leverage my position here to help underserved, underprivileged, understudied patients has really been my life’s mission,” said Olopade in the Associated Press story. “I’m blown away someone took notice.” In the Chicago Sun-Times article, Murphy explained the purpose of the work of economists like himself. “Economics is a powerful tool for understanding the real world. It’s not just an abstract game we play for our own entertainment.”

    Economist Austan Goolsbee was featured in the Monday, Sept. 19 issue of the Financial Times, which highlighted his early career start as new professor at the University at age 25, to his now-tenured faculty appointment at age 36. Goolsbee, who recently was named the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, described the intellectual culture of the University and its dedicated faculty and students. “In some ways the University of Chicago is like the economist’s Disneyland. They [faculty and students] eat it, breathe it, sleep it, live it at all times. It has been said that it extends one’s intellectual life expectancy by 20 years, and it’s certainly the case that if you look at guys [economists] like Gary Becker or Bob Lucas or Jim Heckman, they are at ages where their contemporaries anywhere else are not doing any research. But they are going to seminars, writing papers, they are arguing.”

    Sydney Hans, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, was quoted in a New York Times article published Sunday, Sept. 25 about a study she led that involved 248 mothers between the ages of 14 and 21 who experienced their childbirths with the support of doulas. Doulas are professionals who advocate for pregnant women, supporting them through their childbirth, though, unlike midwives, they do not deliver babies. The doulas provided prenatal classes and postpartum counseling for the pregnant mothers, which led to increased rates of breast-feeding and other benefits, the article said. “When they talk about childbirth they tend to use more first-person words, like I did this,’ or I did that,’ as opposed to the doctor did this.’ There’s a sense of ownership about their childbirth experience,” said Hans.

    Cybele Raver, Associate Professor in the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, was interviewed on WBEZ’s 848 radio program to discuss Head Start and the Chicago School Readiness Project, for which she is principal investigator. Raver appeared on the program Monday, Sept. 26.

    Don Lamb, the Louis Block Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, gave two interviews to BBC radio during the week of Monday, Sept. 19 regarding the discovery of the most distant exploding star in the universe. Lamb had predicted the discovery, made by NASA’s Swift satellite, back in 1999. The exploding star that Swift discovered is one of the oldest remnants of the early universe that astronomers have ever detected. Lamb also was interviewed for National Public Radio’s Science program on Friday, Sept. 16.

    Lawrence Rothfield, Associate Professor in English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature and the College, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Friday, Sept. 23 Chicago Tribune. Rothfield, who also is the Faculty Director of the Cultural Policy Center, wrote about the decisions that will have to be made when planning to rebuild New Orleans for future economic and cultural prosperity. Rothfield argued that moving toward developing an information-services sector in New Orleans, which would manufacture high-tech goods intended for global markets, would be one potentially profitable redevelopment strategy. He also supports heavy investment in education to create a workforce capable of designing and manufacturing high-tech products. An investment in education is, Rothfield wrote, a long-term goal. “In the short term, New Orleans should be thinking of what will entice graduating engineers, computer scientists, video-game designers, financial planners and advertising-copy writers to relocate to the Big Easy.” Rothfield also suggests that planners preserve not only the city’s buildings, saving its architectural history, but also preserve its community-based institutions and activities that keep New Orleans’ cultural traditions alive.

    Richard Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature and the College, speaks during the memorial service for his late friend and colleague Saul Bellow. The service was held in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    The Wednesday, Sept. 28 Chicago Tribune featured a story about the recent memorial service held for the late Saul Bellow at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the University’s campus. Bellow, a former faculty member in Social Thought for nearly 30 years, was honored and remembered at the service, which was attended by many former friends and colleagues of the author and teacher, as well as his widow Janis Freedman Bellow, Mayor Richard Daley and members of the University faculty. The comments of Richard Stern, the Helen A. Regenstein Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature and the College, who spoke at the service, were quoted in the article. Stern, a longtime friend of Bellow’s, noted that Bellow had the “ability to shuttle comfortably between the faculty lounge and the pool hall.”

    Raymond Ball, the Sidney Davidson Professor of Accounting in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in an article published in the Tuesday, Sept. 27 Chicago Tribune. The story reported on such companies as Walgreens drugstores that are reporting profit losses due to Hurricane Katrina. Ball said it should be expected to see other companies report losses because of the storm that devastated New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf Coast. “We’ll see more of them, and there will be some companies affected more than Walgreens. We’ll see similar things with other retailers, restaurant companies, anyone in tourism and travel. And we’ll see big effects in petrochemical, petroleum, shipbuilding, anyone involved in offshore equipment supply, and anyone moving large amounts of product on the Mississippi.”

    Eric Posner, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Monday, Sept. 26 New York Times. Posner argued that the judges hearing the trial of Saddam Hussein and seven of his aides should spare low-level Baathists in order to aid the peace process in Iraq and its fledgling democracy. Posner wrote: “This is not to advocate a blanket amnesty. The question is where the line should be drawn. The answer depends not on law but on politics, on the importance of the members of the old government for the success of the new one.” He added, “They should convict Saddam Hussein on the narrowest grounds possible, so that his former supporters do not infer that they will be placed in legal jeopardy as well.”

    Jerry Coyne, Professor in Ecology & Evolution and the College, co-wrote an op-ed that was published in the Sunday, Sept. 18 Chicago Tribune, on its Perspective page. Coyne and his co-author Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, wrote that the concept of intelligent design—a contemporary term for creationism—has no place being taught in classrooms among scientific theories, as it does not stand up to scientific review as a theory worthy of “both sides” treatment. “If intelligent design really were a scientific theory, positive evidence for it, gathered through research, would fill peer-reviewed journals. This doesn’t happen. It isn’t that editors refuse to publish intelligent design research. There simply isn’t any intelligent design research to publish.”