Feb. 1, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 9

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    Chicago in the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column Chicago 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/.

    The research of Andrea King, Associate Professor in Psychiatry, who is heading the five-year Chicago Social Drinking Project, was featured in the Sunday, Jan. 14 Chicago Sun-Times. King and her colleagues are examining the drinking habits of 190 local adults between the ages of 21 and 35. They have found that binge drinkers are stimulated by alcohol, while light drinkers feel more fatigued by it. “That’s what happens in the real world. Heavier drinkers start feeling the buzz, and they want to enhance the buzz or keep the buzz going. They don’t want to crash. We don’t know if you’re born with this predisposition to feeling stimulated by alcohol or if it’s something that’s acquired over time,” King said.

    Bernard Harcourt, the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Criminology in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Monday, Jan. 15 New York Times. Harcourt, whose newest book, Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing and Punishing in an Actuarial Age, lays out his theory on randomness in policing and criminal justice strategies, argued in the op-ed that the rates of imprisonment and institutionalization of mentally ill individuals have been so erratic over the last century, that it is time to develop new approaches to prison and mental health policies. These rates, wrote Harcourt, pose a number of troubling questions, such as: “Why did we diagnose deviance in such radically different ways over the course of the 20th century?” he wrote. “It should be clear why there is such a large proportion of mentally ill persons in our prisons: individuals who used to be tracked for mental health treatment are now getting a one-way ticket to jail.”

    Researchers at the University Hospitals are applying the effects that grapefruit juice has on some medications to increase the potency of Rapamycin—a drug used to stop the body from rejecting transplanted organs and which physicians believe could help shrink cancerous tumors. “It’s really taking an interaction and flipping it to our advantage,” said Ezra Cohen, Assistant Professor of Hematology/Oncology in Medicine. A substance in grapefruit juice inhibits an enzyme and allows more of the drug to enter the body. “And so we thought, well, maybe we can use grapefruit juice with Rapamycin because it in fact inhibits the specific enzymes that metabolize Rapamycin,” he added. The story aired Wednesday, Jan. 17, on ABC News on Channel 7 in Chicago.

    Geoffrey Stone

    Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published Tuesday, Jan. 16 in the Chicago Tribune. Stone wrote that the mistakes that have been made in the war in Iraq are mistakes that President Bush should admit publicly as his own errors in judgment. “There is no way he will regain the respect or trust of the American people unless and until he fully and honestly acknowledges his mistakes,” wrote Stone.

    Dwight Hopkins, Professor of Theology in the Divinity School, commented on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. (A.M.,’75, History of Religions), alumnus and pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street, in a Sunday, Jan. 21 Chicago Tribune article. Wright, who has been pastor since 1972, is preparing to retire and allow another pastor to step into the role. “The black church is probably the only space in America where black men can have unquestioned authority. It’s hard to give that up for a lot of black male pastors,” said Hopkins, noting Wright’s willingness to do so shows an uncommon humility that sets him apart from others.

    Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance in the Graduate School of Business, remarked in a Tuesday, Jan. 23 Chicago Tribune story about the legal claims some individuals make to receive financial riches of former business partners. The article noted the civil case filed last year against Kenneth Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group. “What’s the phrase? Failure is an orphan, and success has 1,000 parents,” said Kaplan. Such legal cases do not surprise Kaplan. “That’s very typical when something is successful, and everybody feels they have a part in it. Things are often very contentious in start-ups, and when you have something as successful as Citadel, it’s not a surprise.”

    Marianne Bertrand

    Steven Kaplan’s research, as well as the work of Joshua Rauh, Assistant Professor of Finance in the GSB, and Marianne Bertrand, the Fred G. Steingraber/A.T. Kearney Professor of Economics in the GSB, was mentioned in a special report on executive pay in the Saturday, Jan. 20 issue of The Economist. Bertrand, who worked with economist Sendhil Mullainathan of Harvard University, looked for differences in executive pay for accomplishments and pay for good fortune. They found that typically, firms reward their chief executives as much for luck as they do for good performance. In the oil industry, executives’ pay always benefits when oil prices are high, but their pay does not necessarily suffer when the price of oil is low, the article reported.

    David Archer, Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the College, and Randall Landsberg, Director of Public Outreach for Astronomy & Astrophysics and for Education and Outreach for the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, were featured in a Sunday, Jan. 21 Chicago Tribune article. The article reported on Cafˇ Scientifique, an undertaking of Landsberg’s to bring science to the non-scientific community in informal venues, such as the Map Room tavern in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. “We’re making science approachable, cool and interesting. We’re bringing science to people who wouldn’t necessarily want to go to a museum—younger people who are interested and engaged but don’t necessarily like formal institutions,” said Landsberg. Archer, who was the guest lecturer at the Cafˇ Scientifique talk featured in the Tribune, discussed his new book, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast.

    Scott Branting, Director of CAMEL (the Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes) and a Research Associate in the Oriental Institute, was interviewed for a Wednesday, Jan. 17 Chicago Sun-Times column about the work being done on the CAMEL project. Using geographical information systems technology scholars are able to organize maps, aerial photography, satellite images and other data into one place, allowing them to see how ancient trade routes developed. They are also able to prepare simulations of how people may have interacted, given the limitations of their space, the availability of resources and the organization of their cities. Joshua Trampier, Associate Director of CAMEL, was photographed with Branting for the story. “We can break apart the landscape, decade by decade,” said Branting in the article. “We can see things that have disappeared, sites bulldozed, ancient roadways on which modern roads have been built, and how urban sprawl grew around Baghdad.”