December 1, 2005
Vol. 25 No. 6

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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/. If you are aware of news articles that feature the University or its faculty, students and/or alumni, feel free to bring them to the attention of the Chronicle editor to be considered for In the News. News clips may be sent to ldavis@uchicago.edu.

    Robert Clayton, the Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, Geophysical Sciences and the College, was featured in articles that reported on his receiving a 2004 National Medal of Science from the White House. Stories carried by the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, appeared Wednesday, Nov. 16. Clayton received the medal for his research on “oxygen isotopes found in meteorites to understand the chemical processes by which cold, dark molecular clouds evolve into planetary systems.” The Chicago Sun-Times article quoted Clayton’s colleague Lawrence Grossman, Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College, who commented on Clayton’s work.

    John Cacioppo, the Tiffany & Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology, was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America to discuss his latest research on the impact of heredity on loneliness. The segment aired Friday, Nov. 11. Working with colleagues in the Netherlands in a study of adult twins, Cacioppo and the other researchers found that loneliness was about 48 percent heritable, with environmental contributions accounting for 52 percent of the variation seen in adults. “Our results indicate loneliness is not a personality weakness. Quite the contrary, it is just part of the genetic variation that we find in humans. The factors that we find predicting loneliness are the factors that lead to a disruption of your social relationships,” he said in the interview. Stories on the study also were included on the BBC News Web site and in the Chicago Sun-Times, Friday, Nov. 11.

    The University’s three, recently named Rhodes scholars (See story, Page 1)—fourth-year Maria Cecire, alumnus Samsher Gill (A.B., 2005) and fourth-year Nicholas Juravich—were featured in articles that appeared in the Monday, Nov. 21 Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. Juravich, who plans to study Social and Economic History at Oxford with his scholarship, was quoted in the Tribune article, commenting on his interest in human rights. “What I really like about the human rights framework is that it’s a lens for looking at history, a critical way of looking at how we’re doing as a society,” he said. All three winners will study at the prestigious University of Oxford in Britain.

    Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Assistant Professor in Political Science and the College, and Edward Laumann, the George Herbert Meade Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology and the College, were sources for a series of Chicago Sun-Times stories that reported on the social and economic disadvantages that negatively impact middle-class African-Americans’ ability to accumulate wealth. One article stated that new research shows African-American homeowners typically get less when they sell their homes, and this disparity is feeding a growing wealth gap between blacks and whites. Also, many African Americans do not have the financial safety net their white counterparts have. Many whites have parents who have accumulated wealth and are willing to provide their adult children with financial assistance, if necessary. “For the most part, the black middle-class is not intergenerationally middle-class,” said Harris-Lacewell. “It is one, maybe two generations out of poverty. The black middle class is actually a poorer middle class than its white counterpart.” Another article noted that African Americans often have worked in government jobs, putting them at a disadvantage to amass wealth through investments. “They didn’t develop the sorts of skills that people get in the private sector, like playing the stock market,” said Harris-Lacewell. Fewer marriages and more divorces among African Americans also have negatively impacted their financial gain, and says Laumann, based on his research, black men of all income levels are less likely than white men to be in monogamous relationships. “A black man with resources is in a seller’s market. What would be the incentives to hold him down?”

    Robert Pape, Professor in Political Science and the College, was interviewed Monday, Nov. 14, on the PBS program NewsHour to discuss suicide terrorism and the most recent incident of that in Jordan. Pape also appeared on the Anderson Cooper program and the Wolf Blitzer program on CNN.

    Margaret Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in the Divinity School, was a guest on Extension 720 on WGN radio. Mitchell discussed the origins of the New Testament with host Milt Rosenberg (Professor Emeritus in Psychology and the College) on the program, which aired Tuesday, Nov. 15.

    Dwight Hopkins, Professor of Theology in the Divinity School, was quoted in a Friday, Nov. 11 Chicago Tribune story about a new social justice publication, called Trumpet Newsmagazine, which began at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side. The magazine is aimed at reaching the larger African-American community through its faith-based news and commentary offered by regular contributor Jeremiah Wright, senior pastor of Trinity United. Hopkins said many black Christian leaders preach about black inequality and liberation theology, but that Wright’s message has the potential to reach people outside of the church. “Black liberation theology is just now taking off. Several black leaders are out there preaching it. But the fact that Rev. Wright is taking his message and going on the national and international level, makes this venture very unique.”

    Danielle Allen, Dean of the Division of the Humanities and author of Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown v. Board of Education, was a guest on The Josh Kornbluth Show out of San Francisco. Allen discussed what it means to practice democracy on this PBS TV program, which was broadcast Monday, Nov. 14, and Friday, Nov. 18.

    Jason Merchant, Associate Professor in Linguistics, was a guest on “Extension 720,” a WGN radio program hosted by Milt Rosenberg (Professor Emeritus in Psychology and the College). Merchant discussed the origins of language on the show, which aired Wednesday, Nov. 16.