June 8, 2006
Vol. 25 No. 18

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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.

    Stephen Harvey, Assistant Professor in the Oriental Institute and an expert in Egyptology, was featured in an article published in the Daily Herald Thursday, May 25. The article described how an early encounter Harvey had at age 11 with artifacts from the tomb of King Tutankhamun, displayed in a 1977 exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum, led Harvey to his current post at the University. Those same ancient treasures as well as artifacts from Tut’s royal family are now on display at the Field Museum in a sequel exhibition titled, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs. In addition to the Field’s exhibit, the Oriental Institute has assembled a companion exhibition of photographs taken by Harry Burton during the 10 years it took Howard Carter and his team to excavate the tomb. An article on the photo exhibition appeared in the Friday, May 26 Chicago Sun-Times and quoted Egyptologist Emily Teeter, Research Associate in the Oriental Institute. “Burton was a real master at conveying moods in these photographs,” said Teeter. “Some of these are clearly posed to give the public a sense of excitement, and I think he succeeded in conveying a wonderful sense of mystery.”

    Mark Courtney, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Director of the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University, was interviewed for a Wednesday, May 24 Chicago Tribune article reporting on former wards of the state and their chances to lead successful lives as adults. Based on a recent study by the Chapin Hall Center for Children, only 8 percent of the youths in the study’s Illinois sample were attending a four-year college by age 19. Courtney noted that the Illinois’ Department of Children & Family Services is a model in helping youths as they age out of foster care, allowing them to remain wards until they reach age 21 instead of leaving the system at age 18. Courtney also was interviewed for a Friday, June 2, USA Today article that reported on a new national media campaign that will promote adoption of youths approaching the time when they will age out of the foster care system and make the transition to adulthood. Most of these children, who have suffered abuse and neglect as children, have bleak futures when they depart foster care. “They’re much more likely than their peers to end up incarcerated, homeless or sexually abused,” said Courtney in USA Today. He noted that teens fare much better if families adopt them or the youths stay in foster care longer.

    Travis Jackson, Associate Professor in Music, and Philip Bohlman, the Mary Werkman Professor in Music, were interviewed on WBEZ-FM Radio’s 848 program Thursday, May 25. During a 10-minute segment the two music professors discussed the conference World Jazz/Jazz Worlds, which they led on the University’s campus on Thursday, May 25 and Friday, May 26.

    Fourth-year Kenneth Jones, who will graduate from the University this week with a degree in Economics, was interviewed and photographed for a story that appeared in the Friday, May 19 Chicago Sun-Times. The article reported on the job prospects for graduating seniors of the Class of 2006. The article pointed out that this year more students are getting job offers and sometimes several, such as Jones did. He will begin his new career following graduation in Aon Corp.’s early career development program. “I was pretty confident,” said Jones, about his job search, which resulted in three offers.

    Wu Hung, the Harrie H. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor in Art History and the College, who recently has published a new book, Remaking Beijing, was interviewed for an article about China’s national icon—the 15-by-20-foot painting of Chairman Mao that hangs in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The article appeared in the Sunday, May 28 New York Times. “This is the most important painting in China,” said Wu. “This is not an artistic judgment. But look at how many people have seen this image over the last century.” The article described a recent controversy in China over the proposed auction of another official painting of Mao. The controversy also prompted the question ‘who painted Mao’s official portrait?” According to Wu, the official portrait of Mao, which went through many subtle changes, was actually painted by more than one artist.

    Fourth-year Sonia Wang was featured as one in a series of stories published by the Chicago Tribune about Class of 2006 students. Wang’s story appeared in the Friday, June 2 edition. Wang, who began her studies at the University as a pre-med student, switched her concentration and decided to become a public school teacher after tutoring students at North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School. The University operates the charter school through its Center for Urban School Improvement. “I saw quickly that the students were typecast as those that excel or delinquents. It was happening in the classroom even at a very young age. My head was churning after that experience, and I just finally decided that med school is great for some people, but not for me.”

    John Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology and the College, commented on current research on an individual’s ability to transmit their emotions—either positive or negative—onto another person. The Washington Post published the article Tuesday, May 30. If the emotions are negative, the person on the receiving end may need to learn some coping strategies to avoid someone else’s negativity. Cacioppo explained that humans unconsciously have a tendency to mimic and synchronize another’s facial expressions, posture, body language and speech rhythms. “The more expressive and sincere someone is, the more likely you are to see that expression and mimic it,” he said. “The muscle fibers [in the face and body] can be activated unbeknownst to you, at much lower levels than if you were to express those movements yourself initially.”

    The newly launched Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development was the subject of a Wednesday, May 24 Chicago Tribune op-ed written by Chicago philanthropist J.B. Pritzker, whose family foundation is providing seed money for the initiative at the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. James Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the Harris School, is leading the project, which will involve identifying which child intervention programs are the most beneficial for young children in their early developmental years. Heckman pointed out the economic benefits of aiding children in their earliest years. “Policies that seek to remedy deficits incurred in early years are much more costly than early investments wisely made.”

    The Smart Museum of Art’s new exhibition The Colors of Identity, featuring more than 60 paintings, sculptures and drawings that trace the complex expression of national identity and international perspective that define the critical period of Polish modern art from 1890 to 1939, was included on Three to See on WBEZ-FM Radio. The program, which aired Thursday, May 25, called the exhibition “a profound search for national identity in all of its artistic glory.”

    Matthew Sorrentino, Associate Professor of Cardiology in Medicine, was quoted in a Sunday, May 21 Chicago Tribune story reporting on the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. These medications will likely lower more than patients’ cholesterol levels, as more and more become available in generic formulas. A popular brand-name statin, Zocor, is expected to be on the market as a generic by the end of June. “Zocor has the efficacy that compares to the higher-end statins like Lipitor and Crestor,” said Sorrentino. “If generic Zocor is priced low enough that it can save substantial amounts of money for patients, then I think it can have an impact in the statin marketplace and take away from the branded statins,” said Sorrentino.