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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: November 2010

Last month President Obama nominated Professor of African American Studies ALLISON BLAKELY to serve on the National Council on the Humanities (NEH). The appointment is pending the consent of the U.S. Senate. NEH is an independent, grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.


History PhD candidate BRIAN CASADY received a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship for work on his dissertation, “An African City’s Metabolism: A History of Energy, Environment, and Priority in Colonial and Post-Colonial Nairobi.”


Professor of Economics PETER DOERINGER was the featured speaker at the 43rd Decent Work Forum organized by the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva. His lecture, “Racing Towards the Bottom: Why Apparel Sweatshops Are Re-Emerging in the U. S. and Lessons From Europe About What Can Be Done” examined the tradeoffs among jobs, productivity growth, and “decent” work in the garment districts of New York and Los Angeles. The Decent Work Forum is intended to promote the Decent Work Agenda of the ILO through the free-ranging exchange of ideas.


Professor of Physics SIDNEY REDNER co-authored A Kinetic View of Statistical Physics along with Pavel L. Krapivsky and Eli Ben-Naim. The book was published recently by Cambridge University Press. Aimed at graduate students, the book explores the core phenomena in non-equilibrium statistical physics. It focuses on the development and application of theoretical methods to help students develop their problem-solving skills.


ANNE SEERY, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Psychology’s Program in Human Development, was awarded a prestigious two-year pre-doctoral fellowship to support her research. The fellowship was provided by the Dennis Weatherstone Fellowship program, which is sponsored by Autism Speaks. Ms. Seery’s project is titled “Neurophysiological investigation of language acquisition in infants at risk for ASD.”


Associate Professor of International Relations HENRIK SELIN‘s book Global Governance of Hazardous Chemicals: Challenges of Multilevel Management, published by MIT Press, was recently announced as the runner-up for the 2011 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award. The Sprout Award was established in 1972 and named in honor of two pioneers in the study of international environmental problems. The award is given annually, recognizing books that contribute to theory and interdisciplinarity, show rigor and coherence in research and writing, and offer accessibility and practical relevance.


Associate Professor of Sociology LAUREL SMITH-DOERR has been named to the advisory board of a new ethics center at the University of Illinois. The center, funded through a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will include an online portal for professional and research ethics in science, mathematics, and engineering. The online center, called the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, will develop, gather, preserve, and provide comprehensive access to resources related to ethics for teachers, students, researchers, administrators, and other audiences.


William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language & Literature at Boston University JEFFREY HENDERSON has been elected President of the American Philological Association (APA), North America’s chief professional society for the study of classical languages, literature, and society. He will take office in January 2012. He served as dean of CAS from 2002 to 2007 and as chairman of the Department of Classical Studies from 1991 to 2002. He is also the general editor of the Loeb Classical Library, the world’s largest collection of classical texts and translations, and is the author of numerous publications on ancient Greek literature.


The UK-based Arcadia Fund, through its Endangered Archives Programme, has offered BU a grant of up to £20,630 over seven months for the project entitled: ”Digital Preservation of Wolof Ajami Manuscripts of Senegal,” under the direction of Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Language Program at the African Studies Center FALLOU NGOM.


Associate Professor of Psychology MICHELE RUCCI , recent Cognitive & Neural Systems PhD recipient HEE-KYOUNG KO (GRS’09), and Department of Psychology post-doctoral associate MARTINA POLETTI authored an article published in Nature Neuroscience on October 31. The paper is titled ”Microsaccades precisely relocate gaze in a high visual acuity task,” and it explores the role of microscopic relocations of gaze in helping humans perform fine visual tasks. The image on the retina is never stationary. Microscopic relocations of gaze, known as microsaccades, occur even during steady fixation. It is a long-standing proposal that microsaccades enable exploration of small regions in the scene in the same way saccades are normally used to scan larger regions. This hypothesis, however, has remained controversial, since it is believed that microsaccades are suppressed during fine spatial judgments. The authors examined the eye movements of human observers in a high-acuity visuomotor task, the threading of a needle in a computer-simulated virtual environment. By using a method for gaze-contingent display that enables accurate localization of the line of sight, they show that microsaccades precisely move the eye to nearby regions of interest and are dynamically modulated by the ongoing demands of the task. These results demonstrate that microsaccades are part of the oculomotor strategy by which the visual system acquires fine spatial detail.