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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 Accolates: January 2011

The dissertations of anthropology doctoral students Chris Annear and Noah Coburn were listed among the top 40 North American dissertations in cultural anthropology by the blog anthropologyworks. In 2009, the same publication listed the work of anthropology doctoral student Lindsay Gifford among the top dissertations.


Ross Barrett, a former Adelson Fellow in the Department of History of Art & Architecture, recently won the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize from the College Art Association (CAA) in its 2011 Awards for Distinction. From the award notice: “In ‘Rioting Refigured: George Henry Hall and the Picturing of American Political Violence,’ published in the September 2010 issue of The Art Bulletin, Ross Barrett recovers the history of the artist and a landmark painting of an American laborer.”


The Research Corporation for Science Advancement has given a Scialog Award to Associate Professor of Chemistry Sean Elliott and his fellow researchers for their innovative proposal “Artificial Nanoscale Enzymes for CO2 Reduction Catalysis.” Their research focuses on making solar energy more viable. The award is a supplement to an earlier grant received by Elliott. It came about through a collaborative process initiated by the Research Corporation whereby awardees get together to explore further research opportunities, for which they can receive additional grants.


As part of the 100th anniversary proceedings for its flagship journal The American Economic Review (AER), the American Economic Association commissioned a study to determine the 20 most influential papers published in the AER over the past century. CAS Professor of Economics John Harris has a paper on this list: John Harris and Michael Todaro, “Migration, Unemployment and Development: A 2-Sector Analysis,” American Economic Review, Vol. 60, No. 1 (March 1970), 126-142. This is the paper that introduced the so-called “Harris-Todaro” model to the economics literature, now a staple part of the toolkit of development economics.


Professor of Art History Patricia Hills has won the Distinguished Teaching of Art History Award from the College Art Association (CAA) in its 2011 Awards for Distinction. From the award notice: “An active, gifted teacher, faithful mentor, and valued colleague, Patricia Hills has maintained a prodigious career, producing scholarship that has profoundly shaped the history of American art and visual culture. Her textbook Modern Art in the USA: Issues and Controversies of the Twentieth Century (2001) has become standard reading in the field…she is a creative, active, and engaged classroom leader who has developed an innovative style of teaching that emphasizes intellectual role-playing and demonstrates striking methodological openness.”


The American Physical Society (APS) has selected four professors from the CAS Physics Department to be APS Fellows: Plamen Ivanov, William Klein, Andrei Ruckenstein, and George Zimmerman.


Professor of Religion and Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies Steven Katz was recently appointed as the new Academic Advisor for the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF). The ITF is an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance, and research both nationally and internationally.


Professor of Biology Thomas Kunz will be moderating a symposium on aeroecology at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on February 19 in Washington, D.C. Kunz and other speakers will discuss the emerging field of aeroecology, which is the study of the interactions among flighted creatures—such as bats and birds—and the aerosphere.


Joseph Rezek, Assistant Professor of English, has been awarded the 2009-2010 Richard Beale Davis Prize for his essay “The Orations on the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the Uses of Print in the Early Black Atlantic.” The Davis Prize is awarded biennially by the Modern Language Association’s Division of American Literature to 1800 for the best article published in Early American Literature. It appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of the journal.


Google Inc. has awarded Professor of Computer Science Stanley Sclaroff and former CAS Computer Science post-doc Ikizler-Cinbis a grant for $75,000 as part of Google’s Research Awards Program. They will use the funds to develop algorithms that can exploit web image search engines to automatically learn models of human actions. The learned action models will be used in developing systems for video summarization and retrieval based on the human actions that appear in each video. Expected outcomes of this project include new methods for auto-annotation and skimming of YouTube videos, improved precision for searches on human action keywords in Google video search, as well as action-based tagging/categorization of personal image collections and photo websites like Picasa. Ikizler-Cinb is now on the faculty of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hacettepe, in Ankarra, Turkey.


The recipient of the 2010 Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) New Investigator Award in Organic Chemistry is CAS Assistant Professor of Chemistry Corey Stephenson. The award provides $50,000 toward the funding of a postdoctoral fellow who will work on photoredox catalysis to enable chemical synthesis with visible light. A privately held pharmaceutical company, BI supports academic research projects and is dedicated to enhancing the careers of talented scientific professionals around the world.


Assistant Professor of Biology Pamela Templer had her paper published in the December issue of the journal Ecosystems. The paper is titled “The Effects of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on Nitrogen Losses from Urban and Rural Northern Forest Ecosystems. Click here to view the paper.