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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

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: May 2011

Writing Program Lecturer Michael Rodriguez‘s class, WR 150 The Colbert Report: American Satire, was featured on BU Today and on National Public Radio. Read the NPR article.


Joseph Wippl, a lecturer in the Department of International Relations, has been appointed the International Relations Department’s first Professor of the Practice. Before joining the BU faculty in 2006 as a Government Executive in Residence, Wippl had a thirty-six year career in the Clandestine Service of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. During his career in the CIA, Wippl served as Chief of Station three times, as Chief of the Clandestine Service’s Europe Division, as Director of Congressional Affairs, and as the Richard Helms Chair for Intelligence, among other assignments. In 2009, he was awarded the CIA’s highest professional honor, the Gold Medallion for Service.

Wippl teaches classes on strategic intelligence, the National Clandestine Service, Congress and national security, and homeland security. He is also the Director of Graduate Studies for the department’s MA program and has served as acting director of the Center for International Relations.


Retiring Lecturer Laura Raffo received a commendation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives for her service promoting Italian culture during her years at Boston University. The commendation was signed by House Speaker Robert De Leo. Raffo is the course coordinator for Italian in the Department of Romance Studies.

Astronomy Professor Dan Clemens was elected as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of University for Research in Astronomy (AURA) during its April meeting in Tucson, Arizona. AURA is the managing organization that operates four major astronomical observatories across the world, including those on Kitt Peak in Arizona, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and Cerro Pachon and Cerro Tololo in Chile, as well as the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. The organization oversees an annual budget of around $160 million and advocates for optical and infrared astronomy with funding agencies and to the public. See http://www.aura-astronomy.org/.


Professor of English and Writing Seminar Director Bonnie Costello won one of this year’s ACLS/New York Public Library Fellowships and a New York Public Library Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, becoming only the fifth person ever to win both in one year, according to the ACLS. The Cullman Fellows will be in residence at the Cullman Center from September 2011 through May 2012 to work on their book projects. Professor Costello’s project is titled “Private Faces in Public Places: Modern Poetry and the First-Person Plural.”


Randy Boyagoda (GRS’05), who worked closely with Professor John Matthews is featured on the cover of the May issue of Quill & Quire, Canada’s magazine of book news and reviews. The feature article covers his recently released second novel, Beggar’s Feast. Boyagoda is also a literary critic.


English Professor Sanjay Krishnan has been selected as a Fellow at the Centre of Humanities Research (CHR) of the University of the Western Cape. The fellowship, funded by the Mellon Foundation, brings together local and international scholars into conversation with the aim of fostering new directions in humanities research in South Africa. His project will center on a study of world literature viewed from the perspective of the Indian Ocean. He will be in residence at the CHR in Spring 2012.


Associate Professor of Biology Karen Warkentin co-authored, along with former CAS post-docs Michael McCoy and James Vonesh, a study that will appear in the June edition of the American Society of Naturalists. The study develops a model for predicting predation rates in ecosystems based on the size and density of prey. Conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s field station in Gamboa, Panama, the study used data collected on red-eyed treefrogs and their predators. Read more.