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Boston University Arts & Sciences
CAS News November 4, 2013
Students cheer on the Sox on Marsh Plaza before Game 1 of the World Series while a crew from
The Ellen DeGeneres Show prepares to hand out free tickets.
Tracking the East Asian Monsoon
When most people think of ocean drilling ships, what probably comes to mind are oil rigs suctioning vast amounts of oil and gas out of the oceanic crust. In fact, nearly every drill ship from the United States is used for the purpose of extracting energy from deep under the sea. Every ship, that is, except for one—the JOIDES Resolution—operated for scientific ocean drilling, whose most recent mission was co-led by CAS Professor of Earth & Environment Richard Murray.

Murray, along with a widely diverse international crew, returned last month from an eight-week voyage from Alaska to the Sea of Japan/East Sea, where his team drilled core samples consisting of sedimentary layers dating back millions of years. Chief Scientists Murray and Professor Ryuji Tada of the University of Tokyo were searching for clues to the underlying dynamics of the East Asian Monsoon System, a vast weather and climate system spanning India, Indonesia, China, Korea, and all of East Asia. Read more
The JOIDES Resolution scientific drilling ship sits off the Alaskan coast at the start of the eight-week journey.
Study Probes Climate Threat to Amazon Rainforest
A new study coauthored by BU Professor of Earth & Environment Ranga Myneni suggests the southern portion of the Amazon rain forest is at a much higher risk of dieback—the widespread death of forest species—due to climate change than previously expected. If severe enough, the loss of rain forest could cause the release of large volumes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It could also disrupt plant and animal communities in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Read more
How to Catch an Asteroid
BU Astronomers Ponder How to Save the Earth
Last February’s atmospheric explosion of a meteor over Russia injured 1,500 people, mostly from glass broken by the blast, whose force was estimated at 30 times that of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Is NASA worried? Sufficiently so that it has announced an asteroid Grand Challenge, inviting ideas from the global scientific community about how to spot and stop asteroids that threaten our planet.

How exactly does one stop an asteroid? First, says CAS Associate Dean and Professor of Astronomy Jeffrey Hughes, we should distinguish between planet-killers—asteroids so massive that we could kiss our posteriors good-bye—and smaller, potential city-killers like the Russian meteor. Read more

“The Chair Project” Brightens CAS Classrooms
Rhett appears on the seat of one of Landesman's whimsically decorated chairs. Photo by: Kamen Kozarev.
An unexpected sight greeted students in some CAS classrooms last week: an eye-popping variation on a typically drab item: the lowly classroom chair-desk. Each of 22 classrooms featured a very special chair, meticulously cleaned, painted gleaming white, then customized with a unique, often whimsical design.

The chairs were the end result of The Chair Project, the brainchild of Hila Landesman (CAS’12), who conceived of them as a way to enliven the typical classroom environment. “The Chair Project was born out of my visual interaction with classrooms in the College of Arts & Sciences,” says Landesman. “Most classrooms in CAS are bare—white walls, a chalkboard, and tens of identical beige-and-blue chairs.” Read more
Green Monsters, Sox Fever, and Ellen DeGeneres
It all started with a tweet. Specifically this tweet from TV personality Ellen DeGeneres: “Okay, Boston, here’s the challenge. Dress up like a green monster with red socks, and get down to Marsh Plaza at BU to be on my show!” The time was 2:01 PM on Tuesday, October 22, one day before the Red Sox took on the Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series; within two hours, and spurred on by subsequent tweets from the talk show host promising Series tickets, a crowd of hundreds of BU students had gathered on Marsh Plaza. Read more

BU Academy Seniors Looking for Thesis Mentors
At the upcoming November 13 faculty meeting, BU Academy Head of School James Berkman will give the CAS faculty an update on the Academy, and raise awareness among CAS faculty of the Academy’s Senior Thesis requirement. Academy seniors must write a thesis in conjunction with a BU professor, and professors are encouraged to mentor and partner with students. Read more
Bennett Goldberg Takes Helm of STEM Education at BU
Bennett Goldberg, professor of physics at CAS and professor of biomedical engineering and electrical & computer engineering in the College of Engineering, has been appointed director of STEM Education Initiatives at BU. In this role, he will be responsible for oversight and coordination of BU’s efforts to increase effectiveness of instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Read more
more news
Lectures & Events
Irish Voices: A Reading and Conversation with Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Social Suffering and Caregiving: The Ground of Moral Life
European Voices: A Reading and Conversation with Polish Author Grazyna Plebanek
The American University of Beirut: Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education
Beyond the Silk Road: Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Cities and Courts
European Voices: A Reading and Conversation with British Poet Tom Pikard
Discovering Japanese Urban Space at the Crossroads of World Design
Literary Expression and the Book Trade: Luncheon Discussion with Joseph Rezek
The Arab Uprisings: Accomplishments, Failures, and Prospects
View Calendar
Faculty Meetings & Deadlines
Veterans Day
CAS Faculty Meeting
CCD Meeting
Application deadline: sabbatical, junior scholar leave, and leave of absence
CAS Faculty Meeting
CCD Meeting
chairs/faculty calendar
Faculty Meetings
Faculty News and Notes

Professor of Archaeology Kathryn Bard and colleagues were recently written up in Forbes magazine for their use of a technology new to archaeology—a robotic snake that can probe into unstable structures without risking their collapse. The team employed the snake in excavating two 4,000-year-old caves at the site of an ancient Egyptian harbor at Mersa/Wadi Gawasis. Read more

The unintended deaths of civilians in war are too often dismissed as unavoidable, inevitable, and accidental, argues Professor of Political Science Neta Crawford in her new book Accountability for Killing (Oxford University Press). And despite the best efforts of the United States to avoid them, civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have been a regular feature of the US wars after 9/11. In her book, Crawford focuses on the causes of these many episodes of foreseeable collateral damage and the moral responsibility for them. Read more

BU’s Cloud Computing Initiative (CCI) — led by Research Professor Orran Kreiger and housed in the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering (HIC)—has received a gift of $300,000 from Paul Maritz, ex-CEO of VMWare and founder of Pivotal, Inc. This gift will be used to support cloud platforms and tools for big-data and high-performance computing (HPC) research. It provides critical support for the CCI as this effort gets off the ground, and represents a strong vote of support for the vision of the CCI and the opportunities presented for doing big data and HPC in the cloud. Paul Maritz’s gift will partially support postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. More information about this award and its specific goals can be found here.

On October 12, for the Poetry Foundation’s annual “Poetry Day” in Chicago, Professor of English Robert Pinsky performed “PoemJazz” with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood. The reading also celebrated Pinsky’s new anthology-textSinging School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters (Norton). (Read the BU Today article.) Pinsky’s work also extends to opera. In February, the Dallas Opera will be staging Tod Machover’s opera, Death and the Powers, with a libretto by Pinsky. The opera, which will be nationally simulcast, premiered in Monaco and was staged in Boston by the American Repertory Theater.

Professor of Spanish Alan Smith has edited a facsimile of the first edition of César Vallejo’s España, aparta de mí este cáliz (Spain, take this cup from me) (Madrid: Árdora, 2012). This masterpiece was first printed on the front lines during the Spanish Civil War, a few days before the victory of the Franco forces, and the destruction, it was thought, of the entire print run. But one copy survived. Professor Smith’s facsimile edition of this copy, accompanied by his epilog study of Vallejo’s poetry within a genealogy of art’s affirmation of human dignity in the face of horror, now makes this mythical first edition readily available.

Student News

The US Department of Education announced recently that two GRS PhD students are being awarded Fulbright-Hayes dissertation fellowships to pursue the research for their dissertations overseas. They are: Karl Hass, a PhD candidate in musicology, who will be traveling to Ghana for his project: “Time and Space, Music and Matter: A Musical Ethnography of the Kambonsi of Northern Ghana,” and Benjamin Twagira, a PhD candidate in history, who will be traveling to London and Kampala, Uganda, for his project “Religious Hills: Urbanization and Religious Traditions in Kampala, ca. 1950–1979.” Read More

American & New England Studies PhD student Katheryn Viens won the Mary Kelley Prize for best graduate student paper at the recent gathering of the New England American Studies Association.

Three of the four students who won awards for outstanding presentations at the 16th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium were from CAS! The symposium was held on October 18 to coincide with events of Parents Weekend. It was the largest Symposium yet, with over 260 students presenting posters. The event was attended by upwards of 600 people, including faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, parents and relatives.

Dr. Tom Gilmore, the UROP Director, presented awards to the following CAS students:

1st Place Poster – Nicole Snyder CAS '14, BMB major, Kilachand Honors College
Mentor: Sibaji Sarkar, MED Cancer Research Center

Mechanism of CpG DNA Methylation by DNMT1 in Cancer Cells

2nd Place Poster – Sydney Shea CAS '14, Classics
Mentor: Jeffrey Henderson, CAS Classics

Alexandria’s Influence: The Culture of Editing Homeric Manuscripts

3rd Place Poster – Emma Rosenfeld CAS'14, B.A., Mathematics, Physics
Mentor: Steven Ahlen, CAS Physics

Evaluation of a Micro Megas Muon Detector and Development of an Electronics Testing System for Multi-Channel Detectors

Alumni News

Alumnus M. V. Ramana (GRS’95) is a corecipient of the American Physical Society’s 2014 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments by physicists in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society in such areas as the environment, arms control, and science policy. The citation reads: “for outstanding contributions to promote global security issues, through critical analyses of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy programs in India and associated risks in the subcontinent, and efforts to promote peace and nuclear security in South Asia through extensive engagements and writings.” Ramana currently holds joint research appointments at the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, where he works on the future of nuclear energy in the context of climate change and nuclear disarmament.

Keep us in the loop
Let us know about news or upcoming events. Announcements about upcoming events, new faculty book publications, and news items can also be submitted online. If you prefer, you can send news items to cascom@bu.edu, or call Jeremy Schwab at 617-358-1056. Events geared toward students should be submitted to the Student Programs Office.

For all matters regarding your alumni, please contact Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Jeffrey Murphy at 617-353-5881.

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