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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Faculty Accolades November 2012

Professor of Archaeology Mary Beaudry will receive the J. C. Harrington Award and Medal, the Society for Historical Archaeology’s highest award, in January 2013. On November 21, she also will give the 24th MacDonald Lecture at the MacDonald Institute at Cambridge University in November. Her topic was “Gastronomical Archaeology: The Aesthetics and Materiality of Dining.”

Professor of Computer Science Margrit Betke has been elected to Senior Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for 2013. The ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society with over 100,000 members.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced a $1.28 million, three-year grant to Professor of Earth & Environment Mark Friedl, Principal Investigator, Chair of Earth & Environment Curtis Woodcock, and Assistant Professor of Earth & Environment Lucy Hutyra and colleagues from Harvard University and Worcester State University. Their project is titled “4-D Modeling of the Regional Carbon Cycle in and Around Urban Environments: An Interdisciplinary Study to Advance Observational and Modeling Foundations.” The project will advance our ability to understand and model the effects of urban and suburban land use and land cover changes on regional carbon budgets.

This summer, Associate Professor of Political Science Timothy Longman led a Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance assessment team for USAID in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team assessed the current political situation and suggested how the US government could best invest in promoting human rights, democracy, and good governance in the next five or six years.

Exciting news from the MFA in Playwriting in the English Dept. of CAS/GRS: 1) New play by Professor Richard Schotter, Visiting Professor in English teaching in the MFA in Playwriting: The Sussman Variations, with music by MFA graduate student Phil Schroeder, directed by Jeff Zinn. It is playing Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM (Nov. 8-18) at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston ( 2) Assistant Professor Melinda Lopez begins rehearsals for the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Our Town, directed by David Cromer, opening Wednesday, December 7 through January 13, 2013 ( 3) Assistant Professor Ronan Noone‘s play The Atheist opens in London at the Lion and the Unicorn Theatre, Nov. 6-24 (

Chair of Political Science Graham Wilson was in high demand in the media as the recent election season reached its close. On Boston public radio station WGBH, he discussed the Massachusetts Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren alongside CNN’s John King and Politics Editor Glen Johnson (Listen to the recording). He also discussed the presidential election with Sky News (Watch the video).

Last month, Professor of Religion Michael Zank delivered a lecture at McMaster University in Ontario titled “Jerusalem, or: How an Ordinary Royal City of the Ancient Southern Levant Acquired Extraordinary Holiness.” Currently, Zank is writing a history of Jerusalem and its theological-political meanings and a volume on Jewish philosophy as a kind of apologetics (in German).