FRONTRUNNERS • Winter 2001

Students Fight Lead Poisoning

Thanks to a lead-screening bill drafted by students in the School of Law's Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic (IEC), Missouri children ages 6 months to 6 years living at high risk for lead poisoning will be tested annually. The Missouri Legislature passed the bill, and Governor Bob Holden signed it. The governor also approved $1.3 million to fund it.

The IEC, which focuses on environmental and community health problems, is the newest of eight popular clinical courses through which students provide pro bono legal and technical assistance to people who could not otherwise afford it. Each law student is guaranteed placement in a clinical course.

For this project, law students Tiffany Meddaugh, James Saunders, Andrew Seff, and Shannon Whelan, along with Heather Brouillet, A.B. '01, pooled their talents to facilitate the work of the nonprofit St. Louis Lead Prevention Coalition. The students, working under the guidance of Maxine Lipeles, professor of law and of engineering and IEC director, supported the bill in testimony at the state capitol last spring.

Jonathan VanderBrug, coalition executive director, says the clinic's efforts played a major role in paving the way for one of the most aggressive state-funded programs for the prevention of lead poisoning. "We couldn't have passed this legislation without the outstanding assistance of the clinic students and staff," VanderBrug says.

 

New Evidence on Causes of Deep Earthquakes

Douglas A. Wiens has discovered seismic-wave evidence that sheds light on the long-controversial issue of what causes earthquakes deep in the earth. His results were published in the August 24 issue of Science.

Wiens, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and then-undergraduate Nathaniel O. Snider, A.B. '00, systems programmer/analyst in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, analyzed data from an 11-seismograph array in the Tonga and Fiji islands. The National Science Foundation supported the research.

Some previous studies proposed that deep earthquakes occur when material at high pressure undergoes a phase transformation. In this theory, called "transformational faulting," such earthquakes should not recur at the same site since transformed material inhibits further faulting.

Scientists Kiti Draunidalo (left) and Douglas A. Wiens check a seismograph station in the Fiji Islands.

But Wiens' evidence shows that they often do recur, so he favors the "ductile shear zone" model, which says that deep earthquakes are sensitive to temperature along a slipping zone. A "slip" across a "zone" is somewhat like the movement of a book across a table covered with a thick layer of molasses. Such a slip produces intense heat, increasing the chances of earthquakes at that location.

Wiens and his colleagues recently installed a 26-seismograph array allowing them to locate earthquakes to accuracies of less than one mile, advancing the study of deep earthquakes.

 

WU Gains in U.S. News Rankings

Washington University—consistently ranked among America's 20 best national universities—is now tied with Cornell University for 14th place in undergraduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report magazine. The University climbed one place from last year's tie for 15th, reaching the highest undergraduate ranking of the University by U.S. News & World Report since the publication began its rankings in the 1980s.

These undergraduate rankings of 249 national universities, published in the September 17 issue, are derived from data reported by each institution. The magazine analyzes the data according to quality measures such as selectivity, class size, and graduation rates, with each weighted according to the magazine's judgment of its relative importance. The largest weight in the formula—25 percent—is assigned to academic reputation. To determine that, the magazine asks campus executives to rate peer institutions.

In the magazine's "Best Value" category, which relates a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance, the University moved up one place to tie for 16th with Duke University and Case Western Reserve University.

The undergraduate program at the Olin School of Business once again tied for 16th with seven other well-known undergraduate business programs.

In March, U.S. News published its annual rankings of graduate and professional programs. Altogether, more than 30 undergraduate and graduate programs and schools at the University are ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the top 25 of their respective areas.

In Business Week's ranking of Executive MBA programs worldwide in its October 15 issue, the Olin School of Business placed 16th of 82 schools in the survey.

 

 

 

 

Post-Foster-Care Youth at Risk

Examining what happens to adolescents who are heavy mental-health service users once they leave foster care and are no longer eligible for child service systems is the focus of a study being done by Curtis McMillen, associate professor at the George Warren Brown (GWB) School of Social Work.

As youths move from adolescence to adulthood, the number of mental-health service options declines, eligibility narrows, and affordability changes.

"These service system changes occur at a time of considerable stress as young people—particularly those in foster care—often change residences, seek new employment, and learn to live more independently," McMillen says.

The study also will examine correlations between continued or discontinued service use and various outcomes. Included will be positive outcomes such as high-school graduation or college acceptance, and negative situations such as substance abuse, psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, incarceration, and unplanned parenthood.

McMillen received a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for the study, which will document potentially dramatic changes in mental-health services for 380 Missouri youths leaving foster care over the next several years. The Missouri Division of Family Services is a partner in the study, being conducted through GWB's Center for Mental Health Services Research.

 

Law School Applications at Record High

The School of Law received a record high 2,440 applications for fall enrollment this year, an increase of 32 percent.

"Law school applications to the 180 accredited law schools are up in general, but, compared to most, our increase is stratospheric," says Janet Bolin, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school.

What features are most attractive to students?

A recent student survey indicated high regard for the quality of teaching and accessibility of the faculty. Important recent "student-centered" developments include small sections for first-year students, guaranteed placement in the clinical program, an increase in admissions and career services staff, and a three-year commitment to student scholarship support.

In addition, National Jurist ranked the School's state-of-the-art building among the top 10 "most wired" law schools.

 

Gift Establishes Entrepreneurship Program

A $3 million pledge from Robert and Julie Skandalaris will establish the Skandalaris Program in Entrepreneurial Studies at the Olin School of Business. The program will offer traditional classes as well as simulated and real-world entrepreneurial learning formats, and it will allow expansion of Olin's Center for Experiential Learning. Student teams at Olin currently create business plans for new start-ups in the business school's Hatchery. The Skandalaris pledge will offer a possible funding source for those fledgling companies.

Robert Skandalaris is chairman and chief executive officer of Noble International Ltd., a holding company in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, whose subsidiaries primarily serve the automotive industry. He and his wife, active supporters of the University, made this pledge as part of the Campaign for Washington University. Their daughter, Kristin, is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

 

Life on Mars?

A Web site located at NASA's Planetary Data System's Geosciences Node at Washington University is helping scientists assess the possibility of life on Mars. It shows readings of a $1 billion experiment placed on Mars in 1976, done at the behest of planetary researcher Gilbert Levin. Viking probes placed nutrients in Mars dirt samples and detected gas releases consistent with the metabolism of microorganisms. For many years, most scientists thought the results were false positives. But, when microbiologist Joe Miller detected a rhythm in the readings consistent with life as we know it, interest in Levin's research resurfaced. Miller plans to study the Web data further.

 

Spark—Site for Event Information

For students and others looking for something to do, Spark—a new Web site the University has introduced—offers one-stop convenience. Through its "Extension Cord" link, the site, located at www.spark.wustl.edu, is a central location for information on events and activities in the St. Louis area, both on and off campus. It includes information on concerts, the arts, restaurants, transportation, theaters, festivals, and student services; student groups are encouraged to advertise their events on Spark. The site also provides links to the Student Activities calendar and to the main University calendar.

 

Spark's logo is part of an inviting home page, which links users to on- and off-campus activities.

"We wanted to show students that there are many alternatives to participating in high-risk behavior," says Ken Grcich, residential college director at Park House and Mudd House. He and Melissa Ruwitch, coordinator of health promotion and wellness, headed the committee that formulated the idea for Spark. "As a committee, we felt we could meet our goal by promoting student activities and other opportunities for involvement," Grcich adds.

Student participation has been a central part of Spark's evolution from its beginning stages. Several students serve on the committee, and the site was designed by senior art major Deborah Gorman, winner of a contest held in Lecturer Lauri Eisenbach-Bush's junior design class.

 

Exercise Benefits Frail Elderly

A new assessment of several clinical trials indicates exercise may raise the spirits of the frail elderly without causing more pain.

Lead author Kenneth B. Schechtman, associate professor of biostatistics at the School of Medicine, and his team assessed the effects of exercise interventions on the quality of life of 1,733 subjects at four sites across the United States. The mean age of subjects was 73 years, and 55 percent were female. All were at risk for fall-related injury.

Four types of exercise—resistance, endurance, flexibility, and balance—were included, and researchers assessed how exercise intervention affected general health, emotional health, pain, and social well being. Subjects who exercised scored slightly higher on the emotional health scale than control groups. Exercise had little effect on the other three components.

These "interventions may have increased self-efficacy and the sense of mastery, which help to provide focus and meaning to one's life," Schechtman says.

The study results appear in Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

 

Plant Facility Opens

In October, nearly 100 scientists and staff members moved into the facility for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the world's premier plant science center. By the end of next year, the center's world-class team of interdisciplinary researchers will include 17 principal investigators and approximately 200 scientists.

Artist's rendering of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

The building includes 15 laboratory suites, 14 greenhouses, and 51 growth chambers and growth rooms. Led by founding president Roger N. Beachy, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, the center's mission is to increase understanding of basic plant biology, to apply new knowledge of the benefit of human nutrition and health, to improve the sustainability of agriculture worldwide, to facilitate the rapid development and commercialization of promising technologies and products, and to contribute to the education and training of graduate and postdoctoral students, scientists, and technicians from around the world.

The independent, not-for-profit center is housed on 40 acres in west St. Louis County in a $75 million, 150,000-square-foot facility that is terra cotta and glass-clad. The center is the product of an innovative partnership of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Monsanto Company, Purdue University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri at Columbia, and Washington University.

The center is named for the former president of St. Louis-based Ralston Purina Co. His son William H. Danforth is chairman of the center's board and is vice chairman and chancellor emeritus for Washington University. He also is a director of the Danforth Foundation, which has committed $60 million to the center.

 

University Responds to September 11 Attacks

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in the eastern part of the United States, the University community felt many emotions. Like people worldwide, University students, faculty, and staff were shocked, afraid, angry, sad, and numb. However, it didn't take long for supportive responses to surface.

Within an hour, the Engineering Student Council (EnCouncil) established a support center. Within four hours, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, in an e-mail to the entire University community, expressed his concern for the victims, their families, and friends, as well as for University community members concerned about the well- being of family and friends in New York City and Washington, D.C. (Alumni, students, and parents of students in the New York area number about 10,000. Alumna Catherine Jaffe Chirls, A.B. '75, died in the World Trade Center attack.)

He also announced many steps taken to support the campus community. He encouraged all to show respect for others, and said regular updates would be provided on the University Web site (www.wustl.edu).

Max Holtz, senior at Clayton (Mo.) High School, talks with volunteer Amanda Schonhof as he donates blood September 12 in a community-University blood drive held in Mallinckrodt Student Center.

The EnCouncil began shuttling student volunteers to local emergency blood drives. As a result of their efforts, combined with those of several other student groups, University students were responsible for 25 percent of blood donated in the St. Louis area that day.

In following days, there were many related events, including fundraisers, a peace rally, and a memorial service. The Olin School of Business also offered a Web site for School alumni to retrieve and post information about the welfare of alumni from New York City and Washington, D.C.

The "Home Plate" program, initiated by Risa Zwerling Wrighton, the chancellor's wife, and originally designed to help freshmen find a family environment on campus, was, in light of the tragedy, expanded to include all undergraduate students. In the program, participating students are paired with host families, who offer a home-cooked meal and talk around the table at least three times a year.

On the academic side, several faculty presented related lectures on Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and Afghanistan. Others were quoted by media worldwide on subjects such as terrorism as a weapon and emotional aftereffects of disasters. (See faculty comments in this issue: In Light of Tragedy: Words Comfort, Educate, Explain and Washington Viewpoint.)

Chancellor Wrighton also thanked all for making Washington University a safe and caring community free from hatred and injustice. (See In Light of Tragedy: Words Comfort, Educate, Explain.)

 

Genes Influence Effectiveness of Medicines

Scientists at the School of Medicine and the University of Southern California are collaborating on a major new research effort to better understand how a person's genes influence the effectiveness of medicines he or she takes.

Principal investigator is Howard L. McLeod, associate professor of medicine, of molecular biology and pharmacology, and of genetics at the medical school and an investigator with the University's Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The project is funded through a four-year, $6.6 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Heinz-Josef Lenz, associate professor of medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine and that site's lead investigator, says USC aims to use molecular markers to tailor chemotherapy for each patient. Findings will apply to cancer and other diseases.

McLeod and his colleagues will focus mainly on "individualized medicine"—how to identify the best choice of medication for each patient.

 

University's Food Ranks 2nd in Nation

Washington University is the nation's second-best campus for food, according to The Princeton Review's Best 331 Colleges 2002. Ranked No. 1 was Wheaton College of Illinois, which, like WU, uses Bon Appétit as its food-service provider.

Last year, the University ranked fourth. Greg Teator, general manager of Bon Appétit for the University, attributes the rise in rank to the addition of national franchises like Taco Bell®, the addition of wraps at Ursa's Café, and the vegetarian sushi in the food court in Mallinckrodt Student Center. He says providing diverse food choices—including Chinese fare, kosher sandwiches, and Mexican and Asian flavors—has been a priority of dining services. "Every year we add a few things to the menu to correspond to student, faculty, and staff needs."

 

Night-Out at the Ballpark

Edward S. Macias, executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences, flanked by Fredbird and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Gene Stechschulte, led a freshman night-out at the ballpark on August 28, 2001. The event was sponsored by the Council of the South 40 and the Arts & Sciences Peer Advising Program.

 

Luchini Designs "Isabel House"

Architect Adrian Luchini has successfully negotiated the tension between the ideal private headmaster's home and a national boarding school's perfect reception facility in his design for the new "Isabel House" at the St. Louis County campus of The Principia, a school for Christian Scientists. (The house is named for the foundation that funded it.)

"The campus has many very nice buildings done in the International Style," says Luchini, associate professor in the School of Architecture. "At the same time, both the client and I were interested in creating a contemporary structure that would have a presence and shape of its own."

The 6,400-square-foot Isabel House sits next to a low hillside on the 360-acre, 1950s-era campus. The building, completed this year, is a boomerang-like arc. The side that points toward campus echoes the strong lines of neighboring structures, in part by using red brick. The other side—in white stucco—forms a courtyard that provides a measure of privacy. Unifying the house is a tilted copper roof.

"It's a very unusual and wonderful amalgam of public and private space," notes Principia headmaster Robert Clark, who now lives in the house with his wife and family.

 

Musical Celebration Marks Retirement

In a fitting tribute, a concert called "Celebrating the Music of John MacIvor Perkins," on September 29 in Edison Theatre, marked the retirement of Perkins, professor emeritus in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

Featured was his composition Andrea del Sarto, an operatic monologue for baritone, silent actress, and 12 instruments, which is based on the poem by Robert Browning.

 

Bixby and Givens Renovations Are Completed

Faculty, students, and staff in Givens and Bixby halls must feel as if there's no place like a renovated home. In Givens, home of the School of Architecture, and in Bixby, home for the School of Art, everyone is enjoying results of a $13 million renovation begun in May and the bulk of which was completed in time for the fall semester. The buildings, whose interiors were virtually rebuilt, now have air-conditioning for the first time, as well as new ventilation and fire-suppression systems, new elevators and handicapped accessibility, and reorganized studio and office spaces.

These changes, the first significant improvements made to these buildings in many years, are the first phase of the University's planned Visual Arts and Design Center, which will bring together the Schools of Art and Architecture, the Art and Architecture Library, the Gallery of Art, and the Department of Art History and Archaeology in Arts & Sciences.

 

Lopata House Anchors New Residential Complex

Giving outstanding students an educational experience of the highest quality not only depends on creating a sound and flexible curriculum, recruiting and nurturing outstanding faculty and staff, and offering adequate financial assistance, but it also relies on providing a superb physical environment for living and learning.

In August, 15 small groups of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who each formed themselves around a common interest, moved into a new Small Group Housing complex at Millbrook and Big Bend boulevards, an innovative addition to residential life. Fittingly, the anchor building for the complex was dedicated October 20 as the Lucy and Stanley Lopata House.

If Washington University spirit and tradition had human faces, they likely would look much like Lucy and Stanley Lopata. The couple, longtime friends and supporters of the University, has enjoyed encouraging students' creativity and entrepreneurship because, as they said, "It's fun!" Since Stanley's death, in 2000, Lucy has, through this generous naming gift and other gifts, continued their long-standing support and assured that their names will always live at Washington University.

 

Rising to the Occasion

Freshman outside hitter Colleen Winter (left) has helped the volleyball team post a 32-6 record. She was selected as the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III national player of the week September 10-16. The Bears have won 14 of the 15 University Athletic Association championships, including the last 13 in a row, and boast an all-time UAA record of 170-3.

 

Tributes to Illustrator Al Parker

Many have been singing the praises of pioneering illustrator Al Parker, a St. Louis native and Washington University alumnus who, in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, helped redefine his profession. Parker (1906-1985) was famous for his distinctively modern full-page cover illustrations for Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, McCall's, and other major women's monthlies, as well as advertisements and story illustrations. In 1928, Parker, a native of Clayton, Missouri, completed studies at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts at Washington University, as the School of Art was known then. Recently, he was honored with a U.S. Postal Service stamp and with both a retrospective exhibition of his work and a symposium on his life and work sponsored by the University, which houses Parker's archives.

 

A Dance Treasure

Dancer and choreographer Donald McKayle (center), a distinguished visiting scholar at the University in September, drills students from the course Modern Dance and the African-American Legacy in his solo Angelitos negros (Little Black Angels). McKayle, whose career spans Broadway, television, and film, was recently named one of "America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures" by the Library of Congress and the Dance Heritage Coalition.

 

Hotel for Medical Center

A new 224-room, 8-story hotel at the Washington University Medical Center is in design stages. To be built adjacent to the parking garage of the Center for Advanced Medicine, on Forest Park Avenue, it will provide visitors, patients, and their families with convenient access to the Medical Center and will be designed to meet their special health-care needs. Marriott will manage the facility, projected to open in July 2003.

 

People Around Campus

Sally Goldman, professor of computer science, has received this year's Governor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Each year, the University is invited by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to select a faculty member to receive the award.

David M. Holtzman was named the first Charlotte and Paul Hagemann Professor of Neurology at the School of Medicine.

Michael J. Holtzman, the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine, was presented with a Recognition Award for Scientific Accomplishment from the American Thoracic Society at the group's conference in May, 2001.

Lawrence J. Lemke was named the first Jerome J. Gilden, M.D. Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the School of Medicine.

Kenneth M. Ludmerer, professor of medicine in the School of Medicine and of history in Arts & Sciences, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University.

Glenn MacDonald has been named the inaugural John M. Olin Distinguished Professor in Business, Law, and Economics in the Olin School of Business. The professorship was established through a $2 million gift from the John M. Olin Foundation.

Garland R. Marshall, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and of biomedical engineering and resident member of the Center for Computational Biology, has received the Bruce Merrifield Award, sponsored by the American Peptide Society.

Angela Miller, associate professor of art history and archaeology in Arts & Sciences, is leading a team of three researchers collaborating on a survey of the visual arts in America. Its title is "American Encounters: The Arts and Cultural Identity, From the Beginning to the Present." The team has received a Mellon Foundation grant to assist in the formulation of ARTSTOR, a comprehensive new Web site devoted to visual culture across history.

David G. Mutch has been named the first Ira C. and Judith Gall Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the School of Medicine.

Carlos A. Perez, professor of radiology and director of the Radiation Oncology Center at the School of Medicine, received the 2001 National Children's Cancer Society Legacy Award.

For study of tumor formation, Robert D. Schreiber, the Alumni Professor of Pathology and Immunology and professor of molecular biology at the School of Medicine, has received the 2001 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology from the Cancer Research Institute.

Edward L. Spitznagel, Jr., professor of mathematics in Arts & Sciences, has been named recipient of the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. The award is one of the most prestigious given by the Mathematical Association of America.

Karen L. Wooley, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, received a 2002 Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award, one of two such awards given by the American Chemical Society this year.

Trustee Stephen F. Brauer, president of Hunter Engineering Company, has assumed the additional position of U.S. ambassador to Belgium, which was effective June 1, 2001.

Lee M. Liberman, M.A. '94, a University life trustee and chairman emeritus of Laclede Gas Company, recently was elected president of Forest Park Forever.