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Boston University Arts & Sciences

CAS News
Dan Dahlstrom Appointed John R. Silber Professor of Philosophy

Daniel Dahlstrom, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of philosophy, has been named the University’s first John R. Silber Professor. The Silber Professorship, named for the University’s seventh president, is designated for a distinguished senior CAS scholar who can balance scholarship and teaching, with preference given to the philosophy department. Last year, Dahlstrom served as president of the Metaphysical Society of America, and as the presiding officer of the Heidegger Circle, where he was the first editor of its journal, Gatherings. He was also invited to lecture at Oxford University (Authenticity and the Absence of Death) and Wuppertal (Zur Aktualität der Ontologie Nicolai Hartmann).

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Maria Stata Professorship in Classical Greek Studies

Dean Sapiro has announced the Maria Stata Professorship in Classical Greek Studies, a generous new endowment gift that will benefit the College of Arts & Sciences. This gift will support a distinguished senior faculty member with scholarly and teaching expertise in the classical period of Greek history. Designed to allow great flexibility across disciplines, the agreement states that the professor might specialize in any area of importance to the understanding of classical Greek antiquity including art, history, literature, philosophy, or science.

A search for the first Stata Professor of Classical Greek Studies will begin during the 2011/12 recruitment season. An interdisciplinary committee consisting of members of the relevant departments will construct an appropriate advertisement and recruitment strategy and serve as the recruitment committee to look for the best candidate regardless of home department.

Classicist Jeffrey Henderson Elected to AAAS

Jeffrey Henderson, the University's William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature and a world-renowned classics scholar, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). Henderson joins an elite group of 212 leaders from the humanities, arts, business, public affairs, and academia who have been named 2011 fellows. Other new inductees include filmmaker Ken Burns, actor Daniel Day-Lewis, and singer-songwriter Paul Simon.

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BU Student Dies While Studying Abroad

Family members called her Tootie. Friends dubbed her trademark smile "the Mamie factor." She loved Rembrandt and English pop art. And at 31, Mamie Hyatt (GRS'12) was quickly gaining a reputation in the museum world for her research into African American and contemporary art.

Hyatt, who was working on a PhD in art history and was a Fulbright Fellow studying in Sweden, died on April 19. Autopsy results are pending, but the cause is believed to have been a heart attack.

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The Enduring Power of Queen Njinga

Linda Heywood, professor of history and director of the African American Studies Program, tells a story of how her elderly grandmother in Grenada, who raised the year-old baby after her mother died, would often repeat an inscrutable word that sounded like "boh-wah." It wasn't until many decades later, at a London archive dense with forgotten records, that Heywood held in her hands a faded document attesting to her Barbadian grandfather's service in Her Majesty's Navy in the Boer War. It turned out that her grandmother's half-delirious chant resulted from her exhausting, but ultimately successful, bid to get the colonial government of Barbados to pay her the benefits due her husband, Joseph A. Maxwell, who died six months after his return from the front.

"I had goose pimples when I found the document," says Heywood. A scholar of the African diaspora, Heywood lives for moments like that one.

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BU Researcher Estimates Future Sea Level Rise By Looking to the Past

BU College of Arts & Sciences Paleoclimatologist Maureen Raymo and colleagues recently published findings that should help scientists better estimate the amount of sea-level rise during a period of high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels 3 million years ago. That geologic era, known as the mid-Pliocene climate optimum, saw much higher global temperatures that may have been caused by elevated levels of carbon dioxide—an analogy for the type of climate we are causing through human addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

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BU Neuroscientists Publish Theta Rhythm Findings in Journal Science

Research explores how animals track their location

In a paper published in the April 29 issue of Science, a team of Boston University researchers under the direction of Michael Hasselmo, professor of psychology and director of Boston University's Computational Neurophysiology Laboratory, and Mark Brandon, a recent graduate of the Graduate Program for Neuroscience at Boston University, present findings that support the hypothesis that spatial coding by grid cells requires theta rhythm oscillations, and dissociates the mechanisms underlying the generation of entorhinal grid cell periodicity and head-direction selectivity.

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David Ferry Wins Top Poetry Prize

Creative Writing Lecturer David Ferry has been honored with the 2011 Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement, one of the top awards given to American poets. The $100,000 prize, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is awarded each year to a living U.S. poet "whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition."

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Video Games Teach Students to Write Prose

Jeremy Bushnell, CAS Writing Program Lecturer and video game developer, has combined his two interests in order to teach WR 150 Playing Games: What People Talk about When They Talk about Video Games. The course centers on the study of games, whether they are on boards, consoles, cell phones, or online. Students "learn to analyze game functions and the sources of player reactions, from excitement and fear to amusement and pleasure—even addiction…Bushnell's students say putting words down on paper about a passion has made the writing process easier to grasp."

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Seniors Bring Home BU Debate Society's First-Ever APDA National Championship

Two members of the Boston University Debate Society, Greg Meyer (CAS'11) and Alex Taubes (CAS'11), won the American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) National Championship, the first national championship in the Boston University Debate Society's history. Meyer and Taubes were part of a contingent of three teams sent by BU to the APDA Nationals, held this year at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

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BU Academy Student Featured on Channel 5 as "A-Plus" Student

CJ Masdea, a BU Academy pupil and student in Assistant Professor Elizabeth Blanton's Astronomy 203 class, was recently featured on WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston as an "A-Plus" student.

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American Association of Physics Teachers Awards BU

Boston University has been selected by the AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) to be one of their PhysTEC sites. Claudio Rebbi, chair of the CAS Department of Physics, wanted to recognize the generous efforts of Andrew Duffy, Peter Garik, Bennett Goldberg, and Manher Jariwala in the formulation of the proposal.

This award will bring $100,000 to the University each year for the next three years. Almost all of that money will go to fund the salary and benefits of a teacher-in-residence (one teacher per year is the plan). This will be an experienced physics teacher who will work jointly with Physics and SED on the new Learning Assistant program, the new pilot studio project, and other education-related projects. In particular, the goal of PhysTEC is to get more highly qualified physics teachers into high school classrooms, so the teacher-in-residence will be a key part of the department's efforts in that direction.

Dr. Tobian Preis Studies Financial Bubbles

A joint study by academics in Switzerland, Germany, and Boston University, led by Dr. Tobian Preis from BU’s Center for Polymer Studies and the Department of Physics, sheds new light on the formation of financial bubbles and crashes. The study "Switching processes in financial markets" will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on May 10 and reveals a general empirical law quantifying market behavior near bubbles and crashes—these are either price lows where the share price falls before starting to rise again or price highs where the price peaks before falling.

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Sustainability Survey

Last week, the annual sustainability@BU survey was released to all faculty, staff, and students. While it received a great initial response, sustainability@BU is looking for more responses to help better understand what issues are important to address and what they need to work on to educate the BU community. Please respond by May 10. The website for the survey is http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/surveys/?offering_id=132.

Summer Community for Faculty: Dean's Casuals

cas·u·al [kazh-oo-uhl] - adjective
Origin: 1325-75; ME > L cāsuālis, equiv. to cāsu(s) case 1 + -ālis -al 1

  1. happening by chance; fortuitous.
  2. without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing

Once again, Gina Sapiro will be holding three "Dean's Summer Casuals" in her office, CAS 106, on Wednesday, June 8; Tuesday, July 12; and Tuesday, August 9, all from 4 to 5 p.m. These are informal gatherings aimed at faculty who happen to be working on campus during these summer days. As always, they are completely informal times to share a glass, catch up, and schmooze.

NASA Voyager Retrospective Featured BU Astronomer

Last week, NASA hosted an event at its Washington, D.C., headquarters celebrating the 33-year journey of the Voyager spacecraft, now more than 10 billion miles away from the sun. Assistant Professor of Astronomy Merav Opher, a Voyager guest investigator and event panelist, addressed a number of the Voyager program's significant findings and contributions to the exploration of space, including Voyager's influence on the rising generation of scientists and the impact Voyager data have had on the scientific community at large. She also described her first experience with Voyager, shared anecdotes about joining the Voyager team, and discussed her specific areas of interest in the Voyager data.

For additional information about the Voyager program and this event, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/voyager.cfm, and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/. Watch the video.

Deadline for Alumni Weekend Promotions Coming Soon

Although it may seem far away, planning for Alumni Weekend is in full swing. Alumni Weekend is October 28-30. If your department or program is organizing, or would like to organize, an event around Alumni Weekend and would like planning advice or assistance with promotion, please contact Kirsten Lundeen (Development & Alumni Relations) at 617-358-5525 or casalum@bu.edu. Friday, May 20, 2011, is the deadline for getting notices into the Alumni Weekend program. Last year, over 4,000 participants gathered for more than 90 different reunion, educational, and networking events. If you don't currently have anything planned but would like to participate, alumni staff will be happy to assist you.

Department Spotlight: Physics

Students in the Department of Physics at CAS explore deeply some of the most cutting-edge topics in physics, conducting hands-on research alongside leading faculty in particle, condensed matter, biological, and other areas of physics. Undergraduates as well as graduate students are encouraged to participate in the faculty’s exciting investigations, and the low faculty-to-student ratio ensures many opportunities for mentorship and one-on-one and small-group learning.

Physics undergraduates can study abroad in Geneva, immersing themselves in a physics-oriented curriculum and interning at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest high-energy particle accelerator, where physicists are seeking to recreate conditions that existed immediately following the Big Bang.

"The study of physics helps develop a quantitative understanding of phenomena, which is not only very valuable in the study of the physical world, but can be applied to a wide range of different problems," says Physics Chair Claudio Rebbi. "This is why a solid background in physics can open the way to a successful career in areas as diverse as biology, economics, finance, and many others."
Faculty Meetings and Deadlines

Chairs/Directors (CCD) Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 326
Current chairs and directors and those beginning terms in 2011/12 should attend. The major topic of discussion is setting priorities for faculty recruitment for 2011/12.

Deadline for Faculty Merit Assessments
See http://www.bu.edu/cas/pdfs/faculty-staff/CASMeritSpring2011.pdf. If you have questions, please contact Gareth McFeely (garethmc@bu.edu).

MAY 31
Deadline: CAS Curriculum Committees
Departments whose CAS curriculum committee representatives have terms that are expiring should inform Associate Dean Jackson of the new representatives.

Deadline for Final Proposals for Faculty Searches
If you have questions, please contact Gareth McFeely (garethmc@bu.edu).

Dean's Summer Casual
Faculty are invited to come catch up with their colleagues.
4–5 p.m., CAS 105

Chairs' Calendar

Lectures and Events

Elections and the Consolidation of Democratic Transitions in Africa
Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute
3–5 p.m., CAS 222

Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) at BU 2011 Keynote Lecture
Dr. Rita Colwell, 11th Director of the National Science Foundation
“Climate, Oceans, and Public Health: Cholera in the Twenty-First Century”
4–6 p.m., Trustee’s Ballroom, 9th floor, 1 Silber Way
Please RSVP to: wisersvp@bu.edu

Full calendar


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.

Student Accolades

Scholastic Excellence in Political Science and International Relations Each year, the Boston University chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA), the National Political Science Honor Society, recognizes the outstanding academic achievement of undergraduate majors in political science and international relations who have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. The national mission of PSA is to recognize academic excellence in political science and further stimulate scholarship and interest in politics and governance. PSA is the only honor society for college and university students of government in the United States and is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies. Read more.

CAS students Christopher M. Ohge and Lisa Hiton won the top two prizes in this year's Lawrence G. Blackmon Student Book Collecting Contest. Ohge, a PhD candidate in editorial studies, won the $1,500 first prize for a collection on Herman Melville (Melvillanea). Hiton, a MFA student in poetry, took second place and a $1,000 prize for a collection of poetry. Another CAS student, Michael Robertson, an undergraduate in math, won the Emerging Collector's Prize, worth $200.

Graduate student and doctoral candidate Leslie Harkema has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to Spain for the 2011–2012 academic year, for a project entitled "The Aesthetics of Youth: Miguel de Unamuno and 'la joven literatura.'" The award will allow her to complete research for her dissertation, working in archives at the Universidad de Salamanca's Casa Museo Unamuno, the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, and the Biblioteca Nacional de España. Harkema's dissertation focuses on the concept of youth developed in the essays and poetry of Miguel de Unamuno at the turn of the twentieth century, and its impact on the self-fashioning of Spanish poets and critics of the 1920s, who called themselves representatives of "la joven literature" (the "young literature"). She is conducting this dissertation under the supervision of Professor Christopher Maurer.

Keep Us in the Loop

Let us know about news or upcoming events. Please send news items to cascom@bu.edu, or call Patrick Farrell at 617-358-1185. Announcements about upcoming events can also be submitted online. Events geared toward students should be submitted to the Student Programs Office.

For all matters regarding your alumni, please contact Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kirsten Lundeen at 617-358-5525 or Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Lauren Hall at 617-353-1060.

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