FRONTRUNNERS • Fall 2000

 

 

Help Comes from "Out of the Blue"

The sky-high ceiling of the cavernous West End Community Center provides a fitting metaphor for the collection of 30 children clustered beneath.

The youngsters—an array of third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders from Clark Elementary School taking part in a new after-school literacy program dubbed "Out of the Blue"—possess, like all children, promise and potential. Helping them stretch their scholastic heights every Friday afternoon are 20 Washington University students.

Out of the Blue programming is aimed toward increasing literacy for the Clark students, whose test scores must be raised for the school to keep its accreditation.

Numerous activities get the students excited about reading. Drama, art, music, and dance challenge the students artistically and creatively while enhancing their connection to the books they read.

Sophomore Risa Hoffman and senior Lauren Rosenthal, both interns at St. Louis Hillel, designed and planned the curriculum in partnership with three teachers at Clark.

"It's not just about going in and reading a book," says Laurie Goldberg, associate director of the Jewish student organization and adviser to the program. "It's [about] using their imaginations to take the story even further once they learn how to read."
Photo Above: WU student Neil Wade helps youngsters learn to read in the "Out of the Blue" literacy program.

MBA Students Get Real-World "E-challenge"

No one doubts that the invisible world of e-commerce is in fact very real, and Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in the Olin School of Business got a real-world taste of its rewards and rigors during the School's management consulting competition in March.

The fourth annual case competition was sponsored for the first time by Epic Partners, a national information technology services provider headquartered in St. Louis. Ten teams of students in the full-time MBA Program matched wits as they presented business strategies for an actual Epic client seeking to expand its physical presence into the digital world. Teams had only 15 hours to develop strategies and prepare 15-minute presentations to the judges–four senior executives from Epic Partners, two professors from Olin, and professionals in the transportation industry. The winning foursome received $2,000. Teams finishing second, third, and fourth received $1,000, $500, and $250, respectively. Each participant also received a $50 gift certificate from Varsitybooks.com.

William Rees-Mogg Inaugurates T.S. Eliot Lecture Series at WU

Distinguished writer and scholar Lord William Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times of London and a widely known writer on political and economic affairs, delivered the first T.S. Eliot Lecture at Washington U.'s Holmes Lounge on May 1. Inaugurating the American component of a unique trans-Atlantic lecture program co-sponsored by Washington University and the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London's School of Advanced Study, Rees-Mogg spoke on "The Changing Culture of Cousins: 1623-2000."

The T.S. Eliot Lecture, named for the famed poet and author and St. Louis native, is held twice each year—once in London, once in St. Louis—featuring writers, scholars, and public figures from fields as diverse as Eliot's own interests, from literature to philosophy, politics, and the arts.

Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and professor of English and African and Afro-American Studies in Arts & Sciences, presented the inaugural T.S. Eliot Lecture at the institute in England in February.

WU Grad Programs Rank in U.S. News' Top 10

Several Washington University programs hold key positions in this year's U.S. News & World Report rankings of graduate and professional programs.

The School of Medicine ranks first in student selectivity, fourth overall, and is ranked as having the nation's leading Program in Physical Therapy and a top Program in Occupational Therapy.

The School of Law's Clinical Training Program ranks sixth, along with audiology in Arts & Sciences. The John M. Olin School of Business' Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) Program jumped up five places to eighth in the nation. Geochemistry in Arts & Sciences ranks 10th, and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work changed from a tie for first place to second. Washington University placed in the top 10 in 15 ranking categories.

Specialty areas of the School of Medicine listed among the nation's best: physical therapy, No. 1; occupational therapy, No. 3; microbiology, No. 4; internal medicine, No. 5; neurosciences, tied for No. 5; pediatrics, tied for No. 6; pharmacology/toxicology, No. 8; drug/alcohol abuse, tied for No. 10; and health services administration, tied for No. 12.

Arts & Sciences area rankings include audiology, in cooperation with the Central Institute for the Deaf, tied at No. 6; creative writing, No. 10; biological sciences, tied at No. 12; political science, No. 20; and geology, No. 23.

Washington University's School of Engineering and Applied Science also retained its position, tied at No. 40.

Frieden and Watson Receive Faculty Achievement Award

One of the world's leading cave archaeologists and an authority on protein structure and folding will receive Washington University's second annual faculty achievement awards, to be conferred at a public event in the fall.

Carl Frieden, the Alumni Endowed Professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the School of Medicine, is the winner of the Carl and Gerty Cori Faculty Achievement Award. Patty Jo Watson, the Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences, will receive the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award. The awards recognize outstanding academic accomplishments and service.

"The faculty achievement awards provide a wonderful opportunity annually to recognize two standout members among the University's many fine scholars and professors," says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. "This year's recipients are truly exemplary."

Watson, who joined the faculty in 1969, is renowned for her path-breaking work in cave archaeology and her interdisciplinary scientific contributions to an understanding of North American prehistory. Much of her work has examined the origins of agriculture. She is especially well known for her work with artifacts left by prehistoric people who explored and mined portions of the world's longest cave—Kentucky's Mammoth Cave system.

Frieden focuses on a major unsolved problem in biochemistry—how proteins, which begin as long strings of amino acids, fold into their correct shapes. He came to the medical school as a postdoctoral fellow in 1955 and has been on the faculty since 1957.

WU Students Help Launch NASA Project

The fruits of several engineering students' educational labors are to be launched into space on a NASA rocket in September.

Electrical Engineering 480 is an advanced undergraduate course taught by Donald L. Snyder, the Samuel C. Sachs Professor of Electrical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and William H. Smith, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences. This spring, the two professors from different schools shared their highly acclaimed imaging expertise with the course's 13 students. Together they prepared a compact package to be placed aboard a National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket's nose cone and launched from Wallops Island on Virginia's coast. Inside the package is a sophisticated hyperspectral imager along with supporting electronics and computer equipment for image and data acquisition.

The students, working in groups of two and three, were responsible for designing, implementing, and testing the sensor package and its supporting software.

Smith invented the hyperspectral imager, called a Digital Array Scanned Interferometer or DASI (pronounced like "daisy"). It records digital images much like a camera, except that it can produce image data resolved into more than 100 different spectral bands.

Medical Student's Award-Winning Drama Has Debut

Third-year medical student Sakena Abedin's first stage play, gitanjali, which won the 1999 A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Competition, had its debut production in April in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

The competition is sponsored by the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences and named in honor of WU alumnus A.E. Hotchner, A.B. and J.D. '40, author of numerous screenplays, novels, plays, and memoirs, including Papa Hemingway and King of the Hill.

Set in New York, Abedin's gitanjali explores the tensions between the American-born title character and her Indian-born mother, Meera. Gita, as she is known, has been estranged from her mother since her father's death seven years ago and Meera's subsequent return to India. Now in her early 20s, Gita is surprised when Meera turns up at her apartment for an unexpected visit.

"It's a strained relationship. Even growing up, Gita was closer to her father," Abedin says. "She's still trying to figure out who she is and what she's going to be." Ironically, it's Gita's boyfriend, Ravi, who hits it off with Meera. "She and Ravi don't have the same sort of history between them, which makes it easier for them to relate simply as people," Abedin says.

The play is Abedin's first full-length drama, but Abedin is already accomplished in the short fiction genre. Her story "Parvati" was recently published in The New Physician, and another story, "Mrs. Prem," will appear in the upcoming anthology Sanskar.

One Step Forward, Then Two!

Everyone knew it would be difficult to meet the alumni participation goal set for the Campaign for Washington University. To reach 35 percent, participation would have to grow by at least one full percentage point each year from the 1997-98 level of 29.4 percent. To provide an impetus for success, John F. McDonnell, chair of WU's Board of Trustees and retired chairman and CEO of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, offered a $1 million participation challenge in addition to generous commitments he and his family and family foundation have already made. The challenge had one stipulation: the John F. McDonnell Alumni Participation Challenge could only be claimed by WU if alumni participation reaches 35 percent by 2004 and remains at that level for a second straight year. The first year, we reached 30.4 percent by the end of 1998-99. Did we meet our 1999-2000 goal of 31.4 percent? No. We surpassed it by a full percentage point. Thanks to a record number of alumni making Annual Fund gifts last year, we reached 32.4 percent alumni participation by June 30! Congratulations and thanks to all who helped make this giant step forward possible! But remember, we started all over again in July to continue our climb toward 35 percent.

Nicholson Named First Stiritz Professor

Linda J. Nicholson has been named the first Susan E. and William P. Stiritz Distinguished Professor in Women's Studies. A formal installation ceremony will take place in the fall. Nicholson joined the University as a professor of history and of women's studies in Arts & Sciences and recently taught Topics in Feminist Thought: Feminist Theory.

"Linda Nicholson's national and international reputation as a major intellectual force in women's studies makes her an ideal recipient of such a distinguished professorship," says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. "She is the perfect person for the first endowed professorship in women's studies, which was made possible through the generosity of two of the University's greatest supporters."

The professorship was established in 1998 after Susan Stiritz, a Ph.D. candidate in English literature, was inspired by taking a women's studies course. Her initial gift was followed by a challenge grant from her husband, William P. Stiritz, for general support of the program. They are members of the University's William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

Washington People

• Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton has been nominated by President Clinton to serve as a member of the National Science Board, which establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation within the framework of the applicable policies set forth by the president and Congress. The board includes 24 part-time members, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, and selected on the basis of their eminence in their field of science, to represent the science and engineering community.
Jane H. Aiken, professor of law, has been named a Carnegie Scholar in the Pew National Fellowship Program. She is one of 40 college and university faculty members nationwide who participated in the two-week Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Menlo Park, California, in June. The annual program, which includes a $6,000 stipend, supports the work of distinguished faculty who are contributing significantly to an emerging field of teaching and learning.
Susan Frelich Appleton was installed as the inaugural Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe Couzins Professor of Law in April. Appleton is a nationally known expert on family law and has been a member of the law faculty since 1975. The new chair is named in honor of the law school's first female students, Lemma Barkeloo and Phoebe W. Couzins, who enrolled in 1869 in what was then known as the St. Louis Law School. The School was one of the first in the country to admit women.
Dennis W. Choi, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and head of the Department of Neurology, has been selected as chair of a blue-ribbon panel that will review the intramural research program at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Choi is an internationally known neuroscientist and president of the Society for Neuroscience. As well as supporting research at other institutions, the NINDS conducts intramural and collaborative research on neurological disorders in its own laboratories, branches, and clinics.
Elyane Dezon-Jones, professor of romance languages in Arts & Sciences, recently received the distinction of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French minister of culture. The award recognizes her work as a literary critic and a mystery fiction writer. Dezon-Jones, a scholar of 20th-century novelist Marcel Proust, penned a 1994 satire of the world of Proust scholars, which earned critical acclaim and best-selling status in France.
Ronald M. Levin, a member of the School of Law faculty since 1979, was installed as the inaugural Henry Hitchcock Professor of Law in March. He is a nationally known authority on administrative law and the law of legislation, and is chair-elect of the American Bar Association's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. Henry Hitchcock played a prominent role in the 1867 founding of the University's law department, then known as the St. Louis Law School. He was a University trustee, provost, and first law school dean, as well as a founder of the American Bar Association.
Arthur L. Prensky, the Allen P. and Josephine B. Green Professor of Pediatric Neurology at the School of Medicine, has received the Homer Award from the Child Neurology Society. The Child Neurology Society consists of 1,300 academic and practicing neurologists and confers the award annually on a pediatric neurologist who has made substantial contributions to clinical care, training, and/or research relating to nervous system disorders that affect children.

OVATIONS! and Performing Arts Department

Rennie Harris/PUREMOVEMENT....Sept. 22, 23, 24
The Mingus Big Band....Oct. 15
The King Stag....Oct. 27, 28, 29
Photo Left: The King Stag at OVATIONS!

Thomas Labˇ....Nov. 18
Shapiro & Smith Danc....Jan. 19, 20, 21
Shylock....Jan. 27
Michael Haber and Seth Carlin....Feb. 10
Molly Sweeney....Feb. 17
Eric Bogosian....Feb. 23, 24
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company....March 2, 3, 4
The Kingsbury Ensemble....March 31
War of the Worlds....April 20, 21, 22
Baby with the Bathwater....Sept. 12-15
Dance Close-Up 2000 Alumni Celebration.... Oct. 15, 16
Man of La Mancha....Nov. 10-12; 17-19
Washington University Dance Theatre....Dec. 8-10
Kate Chopin's The Awakening.... Jan. 25-28
Marie & Bruce.... Feb. 23-25; March1-3
The Darker Face of the Earth....March 30-April 1; April 6-8
Caught in Carnation....April 25-26; 28-29

For ticket information, call the Edison Theatre Box Office at 314-935-6543 or Washington University Performing Arts Department at 314-935-5858.

Award-Winning Master Plan Boosts Park's Future

St. Louis' 123-year-old Forest Park has been likened to a tarnished jewel, but implementation of a $150 million master plan designed by John Hoal, associate professor in the School of Architecture, not only means polishing the jewel to its former luster, but also providing a new setting to enhance its extraordinary facets.

"The community-backed plan outlines improvements for the 1,300-acre urban park's natural systems, cultural institutions, and other facilities in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the park's hosting the 1904 World's Fair," says Hoal, who heads the School's Master of Urban Design Program.

The Forest Park project received the American Planning Association's 2000 Outstanding Planning Award for Implementation in April in New York City. The national award recognizes the highly successful public and private partnership guiding the implementation of the 200-page Forest Park master plan in time for celebrations in 2004.

Hoal is overseeing the design aspects of the four-year-old plan, which was formally adopted in December 1995. It strives to unify fragmented offerings into a "total park experience" and addresses major issues such as conflicting uses, accessibility and confusing internal roadways, inadequate parking, crumbling infrastructure, and unhealthy waterways.

Viktor Hamburger Honored with 100th Birthday Symposium

The Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences will honor the world-renowned neurobiologist Viktor Hamburger and mark the occasion of his 100th birthday, which he celebrated in July 2000. The Viktor Hamburger Centenary Symposium, planned for October 20, 2000, will include presentations on Hamburger's life and work by scientists from several major universities. For more information, please call 314-935-6860.

Genome Sequencing Consortium Announces "Working Draft" of Human Genome

School of Medicine researchers went to the White House on June 26 to help announce the assembly of a working draft of the human genome. Robert H. Waterston, Richard K. Wilson, and Mundeep Sekhon joined scientists from across the nation in celebrating this milestone in the massive effort to decipher the genome—3 billion DNA letters that make the blueprint for the human body. The Genome Sequencing Center at the medical school has contributed approximately one-fourth of the DNA sequence generated by the Human Genome Project, an international public consortium.

Of the working draft, Waterston says, "It's amazing not for what it actually tells us as much as for the promise it holds. With the information in front of us, we begin to see the path forward in a way that was hard to see without it." Waterston is the James S. McDonnell Professor of Genetics, head of the Department of Genetics, and director of the Genome Sequencing Center.

Wilson is associate professor of genetics and center co-director. Sekhon is a lab supervisor.

The White House ceremony was attended by U.S. senators and ambassadors of five nations, as well as by Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his role in discovering the structure of DNA in 1953. British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on a satellite link. President Bill Clinton noted that the ceremony was taking place in the room where Meriwether Lewis unrolled the map of his western expedition for Thomas Jefferson. "The human genome is the most important, most wonderful map ever produced by humankind," Clinton said.

The genome is the basic set of inherited instructions for the development and functioning of a human being. Sequencing means determining the exact order of DNA's four chemical bases, commonly abbreviated A, T, C, and G. The medical school here was one of the five largest sequencing centers contributing the bulk of the data.

In addition to sequencing cloned DNA, researchers at the medical school positioned the clones on the chromosomes, making it possible to determine how the fragmentary sequences fit together.

Approximately 50 percent of the genome sequence now is in near-finished form or better, and 24 percent is completely finished. This working draft is helping scientists understand how a human being develops from a fertilized egg to an adult. It also is revealing what goes wrong at the genetic level in many diseases. Using this information, scientists hope to develop drugs that compensate for genetic glitches, even tailoring drugs to the genetic makeup of individual patients.

Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics, also announced the completion of his company's working draft at the White House event. Celera and the Human Genome Project used different sequencing strategies to reach their goals.

The researchers now must polish their drafts. Back at work, Sekhon says, "Our job only gets tougher. Some of the pressure is off, but there are still gaps in the sequence to close." The official deadline for the final, highly accurate draft is 2003, but the public consortium has a history of beating deadlines.

The international Human Genome Sequencing consortium includes scientists at 16 institutions in France, Germany, Japan, China, Great Britain, and the United States. The five largest centers, which together generated about 82 percent of the sequence, are located at: Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas; Joint Genome Institute, in Walnut Creek, California; Sanger Centre, near Cambridge, England; Washington University School of Medicine; and Whitehead Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Powwow Power

Native American dancers in full regalia were among the participants at the 10th annual Washington University Powwow, held in the Field house Saturday, April 8. the powwow is the key event of WU's American Indian Awareness Week, which, along with traditional dance, also features trading booths, arts, crafts, music, and food.

 

Blanket Verse

Jared Leavitt (background), Class of '01, and Luke McIntosh, B.S.M.E. '00, view one of the two Washington University Greek community's AIDS quilts, which consist of patches designed by each Washington University fraternity and sorority chapter, as well as a patch fashioned by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils. The two quilts will be submitted to the Saint Louis Effort for AIDS and then will be added to the national AIDS quilt. A $2,500 check, the proceeds of last fall's Greek Week, also went to the Effort for AIDS.

 

Out on a Limb?

Although it is raising eyebrows and getting constant second glances by passersby in the park, this colorful and relaxed-looking creature appears quite at home on its seemingly precarious perch. Being one of several sculptures on display this spring at University City's Mooney Park, it was aptly titled Swimming in the Trees by its creator, School of Art sculpture student Tracy Kodner. Each year, Washington University sculpture students provide University City with numerous, always-intriguing pieces to enhance the neighborhood parks.

 

Slice of Life at College

Area high school students Mike Lantzy (left), a sophomore from Parkway North High School, and Kela Whitney, a freshman from Soldan International Studies School, participate in a genetics experiment in a Rebstock Hall laboratory. Science outreach personnel brought honors students from the two schools—one in the city, the other in the county—to the University for a day that provided a slice of college life, in the lab and elsewhere on campus.

 

Superstar!

Alia Fischer, A.B. '00, who led the Washington University women's basketball team to its third straight national title in spring 2000, has been selected as the recipient of the Jostens Trophy, which recognizes the premier student-athlete in Division III basketball. The award honors the "true Division III athlete," one who shows excellence in the classroom, on the playing floor, and in the community. In addition to a trophy, a $1,000 scholarship will be presented to WU in Fischer's name. For her prowess on the court, Fischer was also named the winner of the Honda Award as the top female athlete among all Division III sports. She also earned an unprecedented third consecutive Player of the Year Award from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) after helping the Bears to a second straight 30-0 campaign. Previously, no other player had won the WBCA award twice. The 6'3" center is the Bears' all-time leader in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. A French and business major, Fischer, a native of Rochester, Minn., earned a 3.84 grade point average and received a $5,000 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship earlier this year. She also was a member of Thurtene, the Washington University junior leadership honorary, and volunteered time in various community service projects.

 

Walking the Walk

More than 250 participants picked up their heels March 29 for the kickoff of WU Walks, the University's new walking club for students, staff, and faculty. With a cameo appearance by the WU Bear, the group traversed a 1.2-mile route on and around campus. The club meets at noon every Wednesday near Graham Chapel. For information, go to: walking@rescomp.wustl.edu

 

Each One, Teach One!

Julie Venci, A.B. '00, the student coordinator of the Each One, Teach One program, gets a group hug from a handful of appreciative students who participated in the program's on-campus picnic on April 29, 2000. Each One, Teach One is a new community outreach program involving more than 80 Washington University students who volunteer to help tutor children in the St. Louis school desegregation program each week.