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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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Promoted Faculty 2012/13

On February 1, 2013, University Provost Jean Morrison announced the promotion of 12 members of the CAS faculty to full professor. They are as follows: Robert Carey, Physics; Jodi Cranston, History of Art & Architecture; James Johnson, History; Jonathan Klawans, Religion; Kimberly McCall, Biology; Meers Oppenheim, Astronomy; M. Daniele Paserman, Economics; Anita Patterson, English; Nathan Phillips, Earth & Environment; Kimberly Saudino, Psychology; David Somers, Psychology; and Jenny White, Anthropology. Congratulations and well deserved!

Robert Carey, Physics, specializes in high-precision particle physics and has earned praise for his experimental research into elementary subatomic particles, known as muons. A recent recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, he has won a Neu Family Award for excellence in teaching and authored dozens of widely cited journal articles and papers on particle physics.

Jodi Cranston, History of Art & Architecture, specializes in Italian Renaissance art and architecture, with specific expertise in Venetian Renaissance art. A frequent speaker at international academic conferences, she is the author of two books, one edited anthology, and numerous journal articles, book chapters and reviews on Venetian painting and landscape architecture.

Cranston hopes to expand her research by incorporating digital platforms into her thinking. She’s hoping that her current project on mapping early-modern art collections and the social lives of artworks will help with the introduction of computational science into the humanities, both for teaching and research. She’s currently working on a book entitled The Green Worlds of Renaissance Venice. The project considers the production in Renaissance Venice of green worlds (the representational spaces of imaginary and actual pastoral landscapes).

Cranston aims to understand how the ecological concerns and geographic identity of Venice as an island and the imagining of Venice as an actual pastoral place in visual culture shaped the Venetian pastoral as a lived mode concerned with primitive origins, the utopian identity of the city, and the predatory and sensual energies of inhabited nature. She will specifically focused on paintings, drawings, sculpture, and gardens, the project also considers poetry, maps, island atlases, travel writing, urban projects, and diaries.

James Johnson, History, specializes in the cultural history of modern and early modern Europe, as well as music history. He has experimented with styles not typical of academic writing, including the recovery of narrative and the consideration of artistic genres (music, fiction, works of art) on their own terms rather than as an occasion for cherry-picking illustrative details. He has received numerous prizes for his teaching and research on 18th and 19th century France and Venetian history, published two nationally acclaimed books, and authored dozens of journal and encyclopedia articles, conference papers and lectures in his fields. His book Venice Incognito. Masks in the Serene Republic was published in 2011 by the University of California Press. Johnson is nearly finished with a successor volume about the practice and rhetoric of masking in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Paris.

Jonathan Klawans, Religion, specializes in ancient Judaism, with expertise ranging from the Hebrew Bible through rabbinic literature. A leading scholar on Second Temple Judaism, he recently authored the book Josephus and the Theologies of Ancient Judaism (2012) and has written two other books, as well as numerous widely cited articles, book chapters, and reviews on Jewish scripture.

Klawans has plans to produce a few essays building on his recently published book. He has returned to teaching a 100-level gateway course (CAS RN 104 World Religions Western Traditions) for the first time since 2004. Klawans is also the Director of the Division of Religious and Theological Studies at BU.

Kimberly McCall, Biology, specializes in cell biology, focusing her research on the molecular mechanisms of cell death and its role in development and disease. A Director of Graduate Studies and past Clare Boothe Luce Professor, she has authored or co-edited dozens of journal articles and scholarly papers on necrosis and carcinogenesis, producing important new scholarship toward disease treatment and prevention.

McCall’s laboratory investigates the mechanisms of cell death and the clearance of dead cells. These processes are fundamentally important in animal development and diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and autoimmune disorders. McCall and her colleagues are embarking on novel high throughput approaches to identify the genes involved in these processes. Recently she and her fellow researchers have begun to also look at the brain where cell death and clearance play a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. She has recently co-edited a book entitled Necrosis Methods and Protocols, which is expected to appear in May 2013.

Meers Oppenheim, Astronomy, specializes in space plasma physics using supercomputer simulations and has recently focused his research on the physics of meteors. A former Director of Graduate Studies, he has received numerous National Science Foundation and NASA grants and written or co-written of dozens of scholarly papers on the Earth’s ionosphere and the creation of meteor trails.

M. Daniele Paserman, Economics, specializes in empirical labor economics, finding new ways to use existing data to address important economic questions, from Middle East policy and terrorism to electoral results and gender dynamics in European politics. A recipient of the Neu Family Award for Teaching Excellence, his scholarly citations rank among the top 10 percent of economists worldwide. In the coming years he will continue to focus his research efforts in the areas of labor economics, with a particular focus on various aspects of economic inequality. The underlying theme of much of his work has to do with equality of opportunity: how much are economic outcomes affected by the environment you grow in, the schools you attend, your parents’ socioeconomic status, and your gender? And how do these differences come about?

In the past year, Paserman has published three scholarly articles (with a fourth one conditionally accepted). They cover a quite varied list of topics: gender differences in the probability that a mayor lasts until the end of his/her term, using data from Italian municipalities; the effect of low-achieving classmates on the educational outcomes of their peers; and the effect of Israeli and Palestinian violence on the support for different Palestinian factions.

Anita Patterson, English, specializes in American literature, modernism and black poetry of the Americas, with an emphasis on transnational and intercultural dialogue. A Director of Undergraduate Studies ad interim, she has written two acclaimed books on race and literature, and numerous book chapters, journal articles, reviews, papers and lectures on transnational modernism. She has recently published a book titled American Japonisme and Modernist Style. Drawing on works by Emerson, Fenollosa, Eliot, Pound, Yone Noguchi, and others, this book examines how the opening of Japan, and the widening popular appeal of Japanese culture in the latter half of the nineteenth century, shaped the emergence of American modernism.

Patterson has participated in an ongoing research colloquium with Japanese scholars who are studying and translating Emerson’s poetry, and she has given talks at Doshisha University, Mie University, International Christian University, Rikkyo University, and the American Literature Society of Japan in Kansai. Most recently, as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, Patterson presented an early version of a chapter of her book as a keynote address for a conference held at Nanzan University, which was published in the Nanzan Review of American Studies.

Nathan Phillips, Earth & Environment, specializes in plant physiological ecology, studying the mechanisms and processes by which plants and ecosystems regulate water loss and carbon gain, and how global environmental change may alter such processes. He has authored dozens of widely cited journal articles and abstracts and cultivated a strong international reputation, with numerous overseas collaborations.

Kimberly Saudino, Psychology, specializes in behavior genetics as it contributes to psychological development, focusing on the relationship of temperament to activity level. As Director of the BU Twin Project, she has received numerous National Institutes of Health grants for her research, pioneering the use of direct electronic monitoring of activity and authoring or co-authoring dozens of widely cited journal articles and book chapters on childhood behavior.

Saudino is continuing her research with the Boston University Twin Project, which assesses 300 pairs of twins at ages 3, 4 and 5 years. This research is funded by a $2.9 million grant from National Institute of Child Health and Development. Across her career she has published over 50 articles in leading Psychology journals such as Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, to name a few. She is also currently editing a book, Behavior Genetics of Personality and Temperament (Saudino, K. J. & Ganiban, J. Eds., in progress). Edited volume to be published by Springer Publishing.

David Somers, Psychology, specializes in vision science, focusing on how the brain works to produce visual perception and visually guided behavior. A recipient of numerous National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grants, he has devised sophisticated new mapping techniques using functional MRI signals to identify brain areas, and authored dozens of seminal articles and abstracts in the field of neuroscience, most recently on visual short-term memory. His lab has an on-going project supported by the National Science Foundation that investigates auditory and visual attention and working memory.

The lab has long focused on understanding basic mechanisms in young, healthy individuals, but through collaborations they are now investigating similar questions in Parkinson’s Disease patients and in healthy aging. They are actively building new collaborations aimed at other patient populations. Somers lab has recently begun a collaboration with psychiatrists at Brigham and Womens Hospital applying their methods to analyze the brains of patients with mild traumatic brain injury. The long-term goals of this project are to try to identify the mild traumatic brain injury patients who are at risk for long-term brain injury in order to better inform early interventions.

Jenny White, Anthropology, specializes in social anthropology, focusing her research and writing on contemporary Turkey. A former president of the Turkish Studies Association, she has authored six acclaimed books, most recently Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks (2012), along with numerous widely cited scholarly articles and international lectures on political Islam, civil society, ethnic identity and gender issues.