Nov. 16, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 5

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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.

    The University’s new leadership role in operating the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. as well as Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., was the subject of a Saturday, Nov. 1 Chicago Tribune editorial. The editors noted that the University and the other members of the Fermi Research Alliance have the intellectual power to compete globally in particle physics research, while leading the U.S. effort to finance and build the International Linear Collider. The proposed ILC is an18-mile-long collider, which will have more power than the European Large Hadron Collider, now under construction on the French-Swiss border, and more than Fermilab’s Tevatron Collider, which continues to make an impact on scientific discovery. The editors stated: “Chicago over the years has developed critical mass in this research and attracted a deep reservoir of the best accelerator brains in the world to the western suburbs. The challenge now for these world-class institutions—the University of Chicago, Fermilab and Argonne—is to secure the future going the next 18 miles.”

    Dario Maestripieri, Associate Professor in Comparative Human Development, discussed with the Chicago Tribune his current research, which has shown female rhesus monkeys raised by abusive mothers develop low serotonin levels and can become abusive mothers as adults. Serotonin, a regulator for emotions, can at low levels produce more impulsive aggression and violence. The study shows that abusive maternal behavior by the rhesus monkeys had both biological and behavioral consequences for offspring. Because rhesus monkeys and humans have genetic and biological similarities, the findings may have important implications for people. Antidepressants that raise serotonin levels are a possible treatment. “This suggests that children who early on have differences in their brain in terms of serotonin could be treated with some of these drugs and maybe these consequences could be avoided,” said Maestripieri. The article was published Thursday, Nov. 2. Reuter’s news wire service also carried an article on Maestripieri’s work on Monday, Nov. 6.

    Jason Yee, a graduate student in Comparative Human Development who works with Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology and the College, was quoted in the Tuesday, Nov. 7 Chicago Tribune in an article that presented the results from research that he, McClintock and Sonia Cavigelli, a former Chicago graduate student, recently published. Looking for links between temperament and health, the research team found that female rats, which showed timidity in exploring unfamiliar surroundings, developed tumors sooner in their life span than did more adventurous rats. While they found a link between shyness and tumor development, the team has now to uncover why there is a link. “The wonderful thing is that sometimes you get results in the opposite direction from what you expect, and it leads to new insights. This is how biology speaks to you,” said Yee.

    John Mark Hansen, Dean of the Social Sciences Division and the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College, was quoted in a Wednesday, Nov. 8 USA Today article, which reported on the Tuesday, Nov. 7 congressional election results that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The article reported that the Democratic Party gained votes that in the past had gone to Republicans, fracturing a Republican coalition that once had a stronghold. Hansen, the article noted, described the shift in political leadership to the unraveling of the New Deal coalition in the 1960s. “The strains in the Republican Party I would say are definitely showing,” Hansen said.

    A University faculty member and a University administrator were among the “40 Under 40” feature published annually by Crain’s Chicago Business. Austan Goolsbee, 37, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business, and Michele Schiele, 39, Vice President and Associate Dean for Development in the University Medical Center, were profiled in the Monday, Oct. 23 issue of the publication. Economist Goolsbee, who writes a monthly column for The New York Times, said in the Crain’s article that working in mass media is a form of payback to the public. “I feel like the public has a right to know ‘Well, what did we get for that?’” he said. Schiele, who once worked for the Governor of Rhode Island, and who wanted to become a political press secretary said of that earlier aspiration: “I learned real fast that those jobs aren’t glamorous. We went from crisis to crisis.”

    A description of a series of bubble experiments, conducted by University researchers Nathan Keim, Wendy Zhang, Assistant Professor in Physics and the College, and Sidney Nagel, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and the College, and the results of those experiments, were published online Wednesday, Nov. 1, by Fox News. Understanding the behavior of bubbles could help scientists gain knowledge about the physics of fluids that govern many processes, both large and small. Using a nozzle for airflow to create bubbles under water, the scientists had one experiment result that produced lopsided bubbles. They believe these occur when a small deformity in the nozzle imprints itself on the exiting air bubble. Blowing bubbles under water is a “perfect” example of this imperfection. “Your mouth is not cylindrical and it’s definitely not level,” said Keim, lead author of the study.

    Olaf Schneewind, Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Professor in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, was quoted from a report in a Tuesday, Oct. 31 Reuter’s news wire story about a newly developed vaccine that may help treat the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria cause a range of potentially fatal infections and have become resistant to many antibiotics. “One by one, this organism has learned how to evade nearly all of our current antibiotics. So, generating protective immunity against invasive S. aureus has become an important goal,” said Schneewind, who led the government-funded study to develop the vaccine. The researchers created the vaccine by combining four proteins found in S. aureus that stimulated the most immune response in mice. “When we challenged the immunized mice by exposing them to a human strain of S. aureus, the combination vaccine provided complete protection, whereas the control group developed bacterial abscesses,” wrote Schneewind in the report.