|FRONTRUNNERS Spring 2001|
International Writers Exhibit Honors Gass
The University honored renowned novelist and essayist William H. Gass, the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, on his retirement as director of the International Writers Center (IWC) in Arts & Sciences with an exhibition titled International Writers Center: A Decade in October 2000.
Since its founding in 1990, the center has brought some of the world's finest authors to St. Louis for public readings and symposia; compiled a comprehensive guidebook on the history of St. Louis letters; released more than 100 issues of the St. Louis Literary Calendar; sponsored contests for local poets of all ages; and published many volumes.
The exhibition included artwork, photographs, books, posters, recordings, and other materials from the IWC archives. Highlights included original artworks and illustrations by such internationally recognized artists and writers as Breyten Breytenbach and Tom Phillips. Additionally, the exhibit included copies of all IWC publications.
Peruvian Plants May Fight Tuberculosis
Walter H. Lewis, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, was awarded the Martin de la Cruz medal by the Mexican Academy of Traditional Medicine for his South American research among the Jivaro indigenous tribes in Peru.
He has made numerous trips to the Peruvian rainforest since the early 1980s to learn about the medicinal plants used by the native tribes.
Lewis and his colleagues have discovered plants in Peru that may contribute to the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Examining about 1,250 Peruvian plant extracts, they found that 46 percent showed an inhibition against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB.
The finding is a first step toward developing potential drugs to combat the disease. The results came after months of working with the native Aguaruna people of Peru through the International Cooperative Biodiversity Program-Peru.
The program seeks to identify new pharmaceutical possibilities from medicinal plants and to promote cultural and economic support for the native Indians.
Tropical rainforest plants produce above-average amounts of secondary metabolites, such as alkaloids. Lewis believes he found such a high anti-TB reactivity because the plants have shared sensitivities that "allow secondary metabolites to inhibit the growth of M. tuberculosis at these unexpectedly high frequencies," he says.
Hero for the Planet
Peter H. Raven, the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Engelmann Professor of Botany in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, is the recipient of two recent awards.
He was one of 12 scientists selected by President Bill Clinton to receive the 2000 National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor. He also received the Lady Liberty Award for Nature and the Environment, presented by the Goals for Americans Foundation.
Raven, a preeminent scientist in plant systematics and evolution, has published more than 550 papers and books. He introduced the concept of coevolution and has made major contributions to international efforts to preserve biodiversity. He also has directed the Missouri Botanical Garden to a position of worldwide prominence.
Over his more-than-40-year scientific career, Raven has won numerous honors. Time magazine named Raven "Hero for the Planet" in 1999 for his work in preserving biodiversity. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also was one of President Clinton's science advisers.
GWB Celebrates 75th Anniversary
The George Warren Brown School of Social Work celebrated its 75th anniversary October 6-7, 2000, with a scholarly conference, titled "Framing Social Work Agendas for the Future," an alumni banquet, and other events.
Conference highlights included keynote speakers Kenneth Prewitt, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Peter Raven, the Engelmann Professor of Botany in Arts & Sciences and director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Roundtable and panel discussions also took place on such issues as information technology and social work practice, racial and cultural diversity in the new millennium, and international social welfare trends.
The overall theme was that of looking to the future and preparing for the social work issues of the new millennium. "Rather than simply alleviating short-term suffering, we must focus our efforts on helping people learn to help themselves, on building the internal capabilities and capacities of the individuals, families, and communities that we serve," says Dean Shanti Khinduka.
Exhibit Dramatizes GWB History
In conjunction with the George Warren Brown School of Social Work's 75th anniversary celebration, the School collaborated with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to create an exhibit of editorial cartoons, titled Advocates for Change: 75 Years of Journalism and Social Work. The cartoons chosen, one from each of the 75 years since the School's founding, covered such timeless social justice issues as education, poverty, and violence, while others featured controversial issues of a particular place and time, such as a war. Dean Shanti Khinduka notes, "The exhibit represents a social justice timeline, helping us pay tribute to our past efforts while signaling that much work is left to be done." The exhibit was on display in Brown Hall through December 15, 2000, and then at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., January 8-22, 2001. (Cartoon by Daniel Fitzpatrick, 1935)
Space Dust May Be Clue to Past
Dust particles collected in the upper atmosphere by NASA aircraft may provide scientists with a glimpse into the solar system's history.
Washington University researchers studying interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) have recently discovered deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) ratios in the particles reaching an unprecedented 50 times the terrestrial value.
Scott Messenger, senior research scientist in physics in Arts & Sciences at the University's McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, suggests that the high D/H ratios are due to the presence of material surviving from the molecular cloud that gave birth to our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. He infers that an environment with "extremely low temperatures must have been present during the formation of this material, and not many places in the universe have such conditions," he says. "This must take place in vast molecular clouds, light years across, the birthplace of stars."
Messenger's preliminary results appeared in the journal Nature, and he presented an update at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Freshmen in the School of Architecture's Hewlett ProgramCommunity Building, Building Communitywere introduced to some of the many ways architecture impacts its surroundings. One project involved constructing a model city designed to reconcile frictions between individual rights and collective responsibility.
Robert G. Hansman, assistant professor, was instrumental in developing the program, which combines the broad-based aspects of a liberal arts education with a hands-on approach to design and a commitment to community issues.
Renowned for his work with underprivileged inner-city youth, Hansman also teaches drawing and painting courses in the architecture school, and serves on the faculty and curriculum committee for the George Warren Brown School of Social Work's urban enrichment and development program.
Hansman recently received an Emerson Electric Excellence in Teaching Award. The Excellence in Teaching program, sponsored by the Emerson Co., annually recognizes more than 100 teachers from preschool through higher education.
Center for Global Legal Studies Opens
The School of Law launched an Institute for Global Legal Studies that will foster groundbreaking educational and research initiatives on a broad range of international issues.
"From the Internet, e-mail, and fax machines, to travel, migration, commerce, and foreign relations, the story of the new millennium will be our ever-shrinking planet," says the institute's director, Stephen H. Legomsky, the Charles F. Nagel Professor of International and Comparative Law and a renowned scholar in immigration, refugee, and citizenship law and policy. "The world's problemsand the problems entrusted to lawyerswill increasingly require international cooperation and international solutions."
The institute's primary activity will be annual conferences on topics of contemporary global importance. Its inaugural colloquium, held November 17-18, 2000, "The United Nations and the Protection of Human Rights," featured speeches and panel discussions by distinguished international statesmen and scholars.
Quest Memorial Challenge for Graham Chapel
A great university must create a balance for students and the campus community by providing both an atmosphere for learning and a space that affirms the importance of the spiritual dimension in their lives. That is what Roland Quest, A.B. '37, believed. And he felt Graham Chapel provides that balance for Washington University.
That is why his longtime friend, Phyllis Tirmenstein, issued the following challenge: to raise the $500,000 needed to complete the $3.14 million renovation of the historic 1909 landmark and establish a small endowment for future maintenance. Her offer: to match dollar for dollar through the St. Louis Community Foundation that $500,000 with a deadline of December 31, 2001. Funds still to be raised to meet the challenge: $223,000. Naming opportunities: many available. Contact Stacy Guadagano at 314-935-4065.
Public Policy Center Renamed
The Center for the Study of American Business got a new director and a new name on January 1, 2001.
Steven S. Smith, formerly the Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Minnesota, assumed the top administrative position at the University public policy center.
Also, the center has been renamed the Murray Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, in honor of its founder and former director, Murray Weidenbaum.
Weidenbaum founded the Center for the Study of American Business at the University in 1975. For most of the past 25 years, he led the center as director and chairman in its mission of producing scholarly research on issues affecting the economy, government, and public policy. The center was originally funded by a grant from the John M. Olin Foundation and continues to be entirely self-funded with donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals.
Celebrated Author Speaks on Memoirs
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt delivered the annual Neureuther Library Lecture, titled "A Memoir of a Memoir," to a capacity crowd in Graham Chapel on November 1, 2000, and he proved to be as good a speaker as he is a writer.
McCourt became a literary phenomenon with the publication of his first book, Angela's Ashes, in 1996. This memoir of his poverty-stricken Irish youth was on the New York Times bestseller list 117 weeks and earned numerous honors, including the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. In addition, director Alan Parker released a film version of the novel in 1999.
Prior to the publication of Angela's Ashes, McCourt taught English for 27 years in the New York City Public Schools. In fact, his years as a teacher provided some of his best anecdotes during his lecture. Through his humorous stories of trying to teach great literature to disinterested students, McCourt conveyed his love of teaching. At one point, he quipped, "It's an honest life. You'll be penniless, but you'll get a seat in heaven."
Professor Wins Olympic Gold
Professor of Medicine John O. Holloszy was awarded the 2000 Olympic Prize in Sports Sciences by the International Olympic Committee as part of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The award included a $500,000 prize, a certificate of excellence, and an Olympic gold medal.
Holloszy received the award in recognition of his contributions to the science behind enhanced athletic performance and disease-state management. The commission lauded his leadership in uncovering the correlation between muscle adaption during exercise and its effect on the overall health of the human body, noting that his discoveries have led to breakthroughs in preventive medicine as it relates to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Holloszy has devoted 40 years to making exercise a valid area of research and showing how it can help prevent and reverse heart disease and diabetes. He laid out the scientific methodology that enables athletes to increase their endurance as they train and provided a rational basis for athletic training that continues to test the limits of human performance.
Holloszy is chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology and director of the section of applied physiology. He joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1965.
New Minor: Bioelectricity
The School of Engineering & Applied Science is offering a new minor in bioelectricity, which combines core and elective courses in electrical engineering and biology. This minor is a natural for Washington U., since several faculty members in the Department of Electrical Engineering are among the world's leading researchers in aspects of bioelectricity.
The new minor will let engineering students take advantage of expanding opportunities in engineering and medicine, in which methods of electrical and computer engineering are combined with principles of biology. A variety of areas already exist at the intersection of electrical engineering and biology, including medical imaging, electrocardiography, the processing of electrical signals produced within the human body, and the design and implementation of electrically based sensors for detecting such signals.
A minor in bioelectricity will prepare students for medical school, as well as careers in research, teaching, and business. The revolution in cellular and genetic biology is expected to shape dramatically the practice of engineering in the future; this impact should only enhance the career opportunities in this area.
WU Ranked 15th by U.S. News
Washington University was ranked No. 15 for overall undergraduate programs among national research universities in the 2000-01 U.S. News & World Report survey, tying with Brown and Johns Hopkins universities. This is two spots higher than last year's No. 17 ranking.
The Olin School of Business' undergraduate program ranked No. 16, the same as last year. The School of Engineering & Applied Science's undergraduate programs ranked No. 44, up two spots from last year.
The magazine ranks schools based on several criteria, including academic reputation, student selectivity, percentage of students graduating, financial resources, and alumni donations.
Law Scholars to Codify Chinese Law
Wei Luo, director of technical services for the School of Law, and Philip Berwick, associate dean for information resources at the law school, have teamed up to work on codifying Chinese law. They are working with members of the Legal Compilation Department of the Legislative Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China on the project.
The School of Law Library received a $15,000 grant from the U.S.-China Legal Cooperation Fund to compare the two countries' systems of codification and to introduce the U.S. system to China. Known for its extensive Chinese law collection, the School of Law is providing additional support.
While pursuing legal studies in the United States, Luo observed how American laws are classified by subject. He was convinced that such a codification of statutes and rulings would vastly simplify the Chinese legal system. Luo envisioned a new system in China that would not only assist the Chinese, but also greatly benefit businesspersons from other countries confused by China's complex legal system.
"I was impressed that the American system was so advanced and so logical in its classification of laws by topic," says Luo. "The Chinese system is almost inaccessible because it is nearly impossible to determine which laws are in effect and which are outdated. I decided to study the U.S. system in depth, and then use what I had learned to introduce such a system to China."
Missouri Rock Images Are Focus of New Book
A research associate and lecturer in the Department of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences, Carol Diaz-Granados, has completed the first systematic survey of Missouri's prehistoric "rock art." Her findings have been published in a book titled The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri (University of Alabama Press, 2000), which documents 134 sites of rock-art images. Only 65 to 70 were known before she began her work in 1983.
"I personally prefer the term 'rock images' or 'rock graphics,' because I believe they are more about communication than about art," says Diaz-Granados. Petroglyphs are carvings in stone, and pictographs are painted or drawn images on stone. The most typical motifs in Missouri are the bird, the serpent, and quadrupeds such as deer and elk.
Diaz-Granados first became interested in rock images as a graduate student at Washington University when she was engaged by the Missouri Department of Conservation to write a report on the petroglyphs at the Rocky Hollow site in Monroe County. She has since become the state's leading authority on the images.
SBC Gift Supports Executive Education
Young Artists Showcased at First Site Gallery
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
What's New on the South 40
Art on Wheels
Faculty Achievements Honored
People Around Campus
People Around Campus