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Eric Hardt

Teaching Doctors How to Close Life’s Last Door

Affiliation: School of Medicine

Focus: Teaching that emotional connections with dying patients are as essential to good care as a stethoscope

Cara Lewis

Walk This Way

Affiliation: College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College

Focus: Demonstrating how modifications in the way we walk can prevent hip replacements and joint problems

Douglas Densmore

Member, Team Future

Affiliation: College of Engineering

Focus: Tweaking living organisms, such as cells and microbes, to perform tasks too dangerous or not possible for higher life-forms like ourselves

Muhammad Zaman

Asking the Right Questions

Affiliation: College of Engineering

Focus: Using discarded cell phone batteries to create affordable and effective pulse oximeters for early detection of pneumonia

Merav Opher

Charting The Unknown

Affiliation: College of Arts & Sciences

Focus: Determining the region between our solar system and interstellar space is a porous brew of massive magnetic “bubbles.”

Sydney Rosen & Matthew Fox

Magic Numbers

Affiliation: School of Public Health

Focus: Crunching data for decision makers in South Africa’s National Department of Health to frame HIV policy and programs

Call it a meeting of the minds.

Pneumonia. Natural gas leaks. Snow. Ancient fire rings. Sugar. No, these aren’t clues to the answer of an obscure game-show question. They’re some of the subjects BU professors have been exploring over the past year. Our faculty are undoubtedly adding to the trove of research out there. But more than that, they’re bolstering the world’s knowledge base, changing the way we think—about the past, about finding cures, about saving lives.

Read on for a sampling of great work being done by BU faculty:

Boston University public health experts and researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg joined forces to collect and process reams of data, which the South African government is now using to frame an HIV program that treats almost two million people.

A breakthrough study by BU researchers, Save the Children, and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that allowing community health workers to treat severe pneumonia in young children in a home setting is more

effective and just as safe as the current practice of referring them to a health facility.

Two CAS archaeologists found evidence in South Africa of a man-made fire dating back one million years—200,000 years earlier than previous discoveries.

School of Social Work (SSW) Professor Mary Collins spent her Fulbright Scholarship year in Vietnam, helping to shape the nascent profession of social work there.

Armed with a shovel and warm boots, CAS Associate Professor of Biology Pamela Templer is studying the way shrinking snow cover affects the robustness and future of New England forests.

And believe us, the list goes on. And on.

Our professors and researchers are constantly breaking ground, changing the game, upending old beliefs, and illuminating hidden problems.

Ann McKee & Lee Goldstein: Concussions and Brain Disease

Affiliation: Schools of Medicine and Engineering

Focus: Understanding brain disease in veterans, research that began with head trauma in the NFL

William Saturno: Debunking the Apocalypse

Affiliation: College of Arts & Sciences

Focus: After uncovering ancient astronomical charts, ending the Maya doomsday myth

Jonathon Simon: Healing the World, One Child at a Time

Affiliation: School of Public Health

Focus: A champion of childhood health, Jonathon Simon is named the inaugural Robert A. Knox Professor

Nathan Phillips: Doing His Part for Global Warming

Affiliation: College of Arts & Sciences

Focus: Demonstrating that natural gas leaks from corroded pipes contribute to global warming

Strength in numbers.

So what happens when so many really, really smart and engaging professors come together in one place? You end up on a lot of “Best Of”lists. The School of Law (LAW) earned the top ranking for best legal faculty in the country from the Princeton Review for the second straight year. The School also placed sixth in the country for “best classroom experience.”

In other rankings:

All three of College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College’s (SAR) graduate programs placed in the top 25 of U.S. News & World Report’s graduate school rankings. (BU was the only New England university to earn that distinction.)

The School of Management (SMG) was rated one of the nation’s top 20 undergraduate business schools in this year’s Bloomberg Businessweek

rankings, leaping 13 spots to number 18 out of 124—the highest position ever given by the magazine to SMG.

The University continues to execute its strategic plan, assembling a “world-class faculty whose members are dedicated to teaching and engaged in research, scholarship, and their professions.” This year, we hired 53 new faculty on the Charles River Campus, including 15 for newly created positions, and 48 new faculty on the Medical Campus.

In fact, so many people at BU are doing great work that it would be impossible to include them all in this Annual Report—or any publication, for that matter. Suffice it to say that all the men and women who spend their time researching, teaching, exploring, and inspiring at BU are the heart of the University, and what make us as successful (and as interesting) as we are.

Every day, our professors and researchers are
broadening BU’s global footprint.

In the United Kingdom, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine researchers are developing methods for analyzing oral health outcomes in diverse populations.
In New Guinea, collecting bird specimens is supporting research on molecular genetic approaches to problems in avian systematics, population biology, and behavioral ecology.
BU researchers in China are establishing techniques to identify and track cases of both mild and cognitive disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
In Brazil, BU infectious diseases researchers are collaborating with Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo on new approaches for the prevention of tuberculosis.
SPH epidemiologists in Nicaragua are investigating the causes of chronic kidney disease in former sugarcane plantation workers.
In Africa, CAS Assistant Professor Margaret Litvin spent the fall in Cairo for book research and ended up reporting and blogging on life in Egypt after the revolution.
BU Earth & Environment researchers in Antarctica are examining fossils from the frozen continent to better understand planetary climate change.
This year, James Collins, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering, was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to engineering sciences and technologies. He was also awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue a new approach to cholera prevention.

And the award this year goes to...

James McCann, a history professor studying malaria, and James Winn, a Warren Distinguished Professor and CAS professor of English examining the life of Queen Anne through her arts patronage, each won a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Nancy Kopell, a Warren Distinguished Professor and CAS mathematics professor, has been elected an honorary member of the 147-year-old London Mathematical Society.

ENG Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Xue Han was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences for her research into developing tools to study cognitive functions.

Karen Antman, provost of the Medical Campus and dean of the School of Medicine, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

CAS Professor Robert Pinsky received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the writers group PEN, which promotes freedom of letters and ties among writers internationally.

CAS Professor Les Kaufman received the Parker/Gentry Award from the Field Museum in Chicago. The award honors a person or group whose efforts have had a significant impact on conservation.

Three CAS faculty have been awarded 2012 Sloan Research Fellowships. The two-year fellowships are given to young academic scholars who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their fields.

Designated by the Obama administration as a “Champion of Change,” MED Associate Professor Daniel Alford participated in a roundtable at the White House last summer.

Kate Snodgrass, artistic director of BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, received the 2012 Elliot Norton Award Prize for Sustained Excellence, the Boston theater community’s highest honor.

BU faculty garnered six NSF CAREER Awards, which recognize “innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology.”

ENG Associate Professor Hatice Altug was honored by President Obama at the White House for receiving the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Being brilliant isn’t a 9-to-5 proposition. See how some of our faculty manage to be just as interesting outside the classroom as they are inside.

Khiara Bridges: On Point

Vocation: Associate Professor, School of Law

Avocation: Performing ballet, modern and classical, always in the moment in both body and mind

Marié Abe: Squeezebox Diaspora

Vocation: Assistant Professor of Music, College of Fine Arts

Avocation: Playing accordion and talking about why the instrument is unique, versatile—and, yes, hip

Robert Margo: The Musical Economist

Vocation: Professor of Economics, College of Arts & Sciences

Avocation: Performing with the Providence Mandolin Orchestra and discussing the nuances of classical instruments

Sassan Tabatabai: The Pugilist Poet

Vocation: Head of Persian Language Program, College of Arts & Sciences

Avocation: Boxing—sparring, coaching, and refereeing

Avrum Spira

Avrum Spira certainly knows how to think outside the box: the MED associate professor earned the 2011 Innovator of the Year award for developing a faster, cheaper test for lung cancer.

Nancy Kopell

CAS Mathematics Professor Nancy Kopell was selected an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society (LMS). The LMS has elected just one or two honorary members annually since 1871. (One of them was Albert Einstein.)

Darrell Kotton

How do you grow stem cells into lungs? MED Associate Professor of Medicine and Pathology Darrell Kotton thinks he knows how, and it’s likely his work will be tremendously important for scientists who study inherited lung disease.

Hardin Coleman

The dean of the School of Education is the chair of a committee reviewing school choice, an often-contentious issue in the Boston school system.


CAS Professor of Astronomy W. Jeffrey Hughes is using a $40 million National Science Foundation grant to create a prediction model that will enable us to prepare for future solar storms.


MED Professor Deborah Anderson got a five-year, $13.3 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to help develop an innovative approach to AIDS prevention.


A team of BU researchers recently received a five-year, $9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to generate a living library of genetic variations of sickle cell disease.


MED Associate Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Bioinformatics Avrum Spira received a $20 million grant aimed at developing novel technologies for the early detection of lung cancer.


A $6.6 million grant from the NIH will help BU School of Public Health (SPH) childbirth experts learn how assisted reproductive technology influences health outcomes for women and children.


At Boston University, cancer research is an often groundbreaking multidisciplinary collaboration, with funding of approximately $41.2 million annually.