FRONTRUNNERS — Winter 2009

Michael J. Carter, Arts & Sciences Class of ’10, founded Strive for College, a national nonprofit organization, while a freshman at the University. (Photo: Andres Alonso)

Rodriguez Scholar Founds ‘Strive for College’
When Michael J. Carter, Arts & Sciences Class of ’10, was a freshman at Washington University, he balanced classes with founding a nonprofit organization. Carter started the Strive for College model, a program designed to guide low-income high school students through the process of applying to, enrolling in, and paying for college, through the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program at the University. He received great support from Julia Macias Garcia, academic coordinator for the Rodriguez Scholars Program.

Now a national nonprofit, Strive for College consists of 10 chapters at universities across the country. More than 93 percent of Strive for College students go on to four-year colleges, and Strive is serving more than 300 students this year.

Carter’s passion for service led him to Washington University. “I chose to attend the University for two main reasons: I was receiving scholarship money through the Rodriguez Scholars Program, and I also was connecting with a group where everyone was committed to service,” he says. [The Rodriguez Scholars Program is a group of leaders dedicated to academic excellence and community service.]

His scholarship allowed him to study abroad at Oxford University, study at Georgetown University, and intern at American Enterprise Institute, researching educational history and educational entrepreneurship. These experiences allowed him to network for Strive, as well.

“I one day want to provide a scholarship for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Because of my experiences with Strive, I’ve seen the massive amount of talented low-income students who [may] never achieve their dreams simply because they don’t have the financial means to do so,” he says.

Carter plans to continue to grow Strive full time after he graduates from the University.

The Women’s Society of Washington University and Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth have supported and donated to Strive. Carter recently spoke at a Brookings Institution panel in Washington, D.C., about Strive and the role of high schools in preparing low-income students for higher education.

For more information on Strive, visit or e-mail Carter at

Athletics at a Glance
4-Final ranking of Washington University in the 2008–09 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division III standings. The fourth-place finish is the third highest in WUSTL history and marks the Bears’ seventh consecutive top-10 appearance.

22-Number of student-athletes named to the first annual University Athletic Association (UAA) Presidents Scholar-Athlete Team. This number is a conference best. To achieve this recognition, a student-athlete must earn first-team All-UAA honors and carry a 3.50 or greater cumulative grade-point average during the playing season.

3-Freshman Leah Barsanti’s finish in the junior level of the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Association National Collegiate Championship held in Philadelphia from July 30 to August 1.

4,000-The seating capacity of Francis Field. This U.S. National Historic Landmark is in its 105th year of existence.

Olin Seminars Respond to Economic Crisis
In response to the challenges of business management during the current economic crisis, Olin Business School refocused its executive education seminars, lectures, and case studies to address the recession and its effects on many aspects of business.

“Olin faculty and administrators work hard to ensure that our executive education seminars are relevant to the immediate and long-term needs of St. Louis–area businesses,” says Tom Conway, director of the Olin Partners’ Program–Executive Education Seminars.

The following seminars, all taught by senior Olin faculty, are among the courses that made changes to address the current economic crisis:

• “Finance for Nonfinancial Managers” addressed in plain language why stock values are currently so low and what to look for as signs of “thawing” in these markets.

• “Managing Innovation in the Established Company” discussed how different companies innovate and prosper in different economic climates.

• “Growth Engine” addressed the twin challenges of maintaining profitable growth in the downturn while simultaneously preparing for continued growth as the economy improves.

• “Critical Thinking” devoted significant time to the difficulties faced by federal officials in defining the exact cause of the economic downturn and formulating effective solutions to revive the economy.

• “Risk Management in Supply Chains” placed greater emphasis on the current financial risks affecting domestic and global supply chains.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force: Airman 1st Class Wesley Farnsworth
MRI Machine Donated to Air Force
Airmen from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois loaded an MRI machine donated by the School of Medicine onto a C-17 Globemaster III on June 12. The U.S. Air Force then flew the 36,000-pound machine to Salta, Argentina. To operate the MRI, the School of Medicine is teaming up with FULTRA, a nonprofit organization that provides neurological and psychiatric care for Argentina’s indigenous population.
Injury Control Research Center Established at Brown School
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designated the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention (CVIP) at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work as one of its Injury Control Research Centers.

The goal of the Brown Center for Violence and Injury Prevention is to prevent child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, suicide, and related injuries through community-based research and educational outreach. The center will emphasize work that impacts families with young children and youth as they transition to young adulthood.

Melissa Jonson-Reid, associate professor at the Brown School, leads the center. John Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the School of Medicine, serves as co-director.

CDC’s Injury Control Research Centers reside at 11 academic health centers throughout the United States.

New One-year Computer Science and Engineering Master’s Degree Offered
The School of Engineering & Applied Science developed a highly personalized one-year master of engineering in computer science and engineering. The degree will provide students with computing skills and a competitive edge to meet the demands of modern industry.

The program is specially tailored for those who plan to change careers and enter the computer science and engineering (CSE) profession, international students seeking to establish U.S. credentials in computing, and current CSE professionals who wish to advance both their skills and their education.

“A distinctive feature of the program is the ability to customize it to specific individual needs, and to combine the best of computer science and computer engineering education with pursuits in other fields,” says Christopher D. Gill, associate professor and director of master’s programs in computer science and engineering. “A final capstone project will bring together the totality of each student’s ambitions, interests, and accomplishments in the program.”

The program debuted in fall 2009. For more information on the new master’s degree, visit

Detail: Tolla Zee Zall by Anisa Phillips. Photo by Patrick Renschen

Student Printmakers Take Top Prize
In the BFA Now International Printmaking Competition, Ian Jones, BFA ’08, and Anisa Phillips, BFA ’09, won two of the five awards presented.

In addition to receiving $500 cash awards, the two showed their work during a weeklong exhibition in Los Angeles in the fall.

“I call my process ‘printcrafting’ since I combine printmaking’s silkscreen technique with the traditional crafting techniques of sewing, stuffing, and embellishing,” says Phillips. She aims to make “touchable creations that can interact with and engage people.”

There were 83 entries to the competition, which was open to any undergraduate student.


Crimes Against Humanity Initiative Addressed at The Hague
An expanded group of experts gathered at The Hague Intersessional Experts’ Meeting of the Crimes Against Humanity (CAH) Initiative in summer 2009. The group included judges and practitioners from international criminal tribunals operating around the world.

The two-year initiative will culminate with a global conference in spring 2010 to discuss the final draft of the multilateral treaty. The treaty will condemn and prohibit “crimes against humanity.” The initiative is under the auspices of the School of Law’s Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and headed by Leila Nadya Sadat, the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law.

“The setting in The Hague facilitated the participation of leading judges and practitioners, including those from the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” says Sadat. “The CAH Initiative’s steering committee benefited greatly from their counsel during our experts’ meeting. Significant progress also was made at the meeting on the specific language for the treaty draft.”

Panel discussions addressed the need for a crimes against humanity convention, the particular problems of enforcement, and the relationship between the proposed convention and the International Criminal Court.

The Hague Intersessional Experts’ Meeting was funded in part by a leadership grant from Steven Cash Nickerson, JD ’85, MBA ’93, and by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Researchers in WUSTL’s Laboratory for Space Sciences in Arts & Sciences have a long tradition of being among the first in the world to receive samples from a NASA mission. In this photo taken in 1969, the late Robert M. Walker (center, seated), the McDonnell Professor of Physics and first director of the University’s McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences in Arts & Sciences, displays photos and lunar samples from the Apollo 11 mission that year. (Photo: WUSTL Archive)

Apollo 11 Moon Rocks Still Crucial 40 Years Later
A lunar geochemist at the University says there are still many answers to be gleaned from the moon rocks collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic moonwalk 40 years ago.

And he credits the late Robert M. Walker, Washington University’s McDonnell Professor of Physics in Arts & Sciences, and a handful of other scientists for the fact that there are even moon samples to study.

Randy L. Korotev, a research professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, “was in the right place at the right time” in 1969 to be a part of a team to study some of the first lunar samples.

“Bringing samples back from the moon wasn’t the point of the mission,” says Korotev. “The mission was really about politics. It took scientists like Bob Walker to bring these samples back—to show the value of them for research.

“Bob convinced NASA to build a receiving lab for the samples and advised them on their handling and storage.”

In their study of the lunar materials, Walker’s laboratory led the way in deciphering records of lunar, solar system, and galactic evolution. Of special importance was the information the lunar samples gave on the history of solar radiation and cosmic rays.

Numerous WUSTL scientists have used the Apollo 11 samples, which are housed on the fourth floor of the physics department’s Compton Laboratory. The samples soon will make a return trip to Houston to NASA’s moon rocks repository, the Lunar Sample Building at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.


Tango Improves Balance, Mobility in Parkinson’s Patients
Patients with Parkinson’s disease who took regular tango dance classes for 20 sessions showed significant improvements in balance and mobility when compared to patients who did conventional exercise.

Researchers Gammon M. Earhart, assistant professor of physical therapy, and Madeleine E. Hackney, a predoctoral trainee in movement science, compared the effects of Argentine tango classes to exercise classes on functional mobility in 19 patients with Parkinson’s disease. The participants in the tango program showed significant improvement in several standard tests for patients with Parkinson’s disease—the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UP-DRS) and the Berg Balance Scale.

Parkinson’s disease affects nerve cells in a part of the brain that controls muscle movement. The nerve cells that make the neurotransmitter dopamine die or do not work properly, resulting in trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; stiffness of the arms, legs, and trunk; slowness of movement; and poor balance and coordination. Parkinson’s patients also are at greater risk for falls or freezing—the slowing or stopping of movement while walking.

“Given these preliminary results, we think that tango dancing is feasible for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and may be an appropriate and effective form of group exercise for these individuals,” says Earhart.

David J. Murray (center), the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor and director of the Howard and Joyce Wood Simulation Center, teaches medical students using a mannequin simulator. (Photo: Robert Boston)

Simulation Centers Provide Hands-on Medical Training
Two new state-of-the-art simulation centers at the School of Medicine provide students with hands-on clinical training.

The Saigh Foundation Pediatric Simulation Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Howard and Joyce Wood Simulation Center at the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center allow medical students, interns, and residents to fine-tune diagnostic and treatment skills in a realistic situation.

Simulated events at these centers provide experiences in managing high-acuity conditions. The scenarios and feedback from instructors provide a safe yet lifelike learning environment for medical students to acquire skills essential in clinical care.

The Wood Simulation Center uses mannequins that allow instructors to program changes in the circulation or respiratory system to illustrate principles learned in the classroom, says David J. Murray, the Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Professor and director of the center.

A gift from University trustee Howard Wood, BSBA ’61, and Joyce Wood, BSBA ’76, MBA ’77, made the center possible.

The Saigh Foundation Pediatric Simulation Center, developed with support from the Saigh Foundation to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, is the only medical simulation center within 300 miles dedicated specifically to pediatric patients.

James Fehr, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the center, says the simulation experience will make medical students better prepared to handle a patient’s bedside challenges—improving responsiveness, situational awareness, and team interactions.

The center is set up to resemble an operating room, with the same tools, equipment, and workstations one would find in a typical operating environment. The simulated operating room sits next to a control room, where computer technology and robotics control the subjects’ signs and symptoms.

Detail: “100 Year Plan.” (Courtesy Photo)

Architecture Team Wins Rising Tides Competition
Derek Hoeferlin and Ian Caine, adjunct lecturers in architecture, and Michael Heller, MArch ’09, MBA ’09, collaborated on one of the six winning proposals in the Rising Tides competition, hosted by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

The open international design competition called for ideas responding to the sea-level rise in San Francisco Bay and beyond. The “100 Year Plan” proposed by Hoeferlin, Caine, and Heller notes that rising tides are merely one symptom of a larger water crisis. They advocate for an ambitious, policy-based “toolkit” that trades the “watershed hopping” method of massive water transport for a more localized approach. They propose fresh water via sustainable desalination and water recycling programs along with tidal marsh regeneration, powered and protected by Rising Tides over the course of the next 100 years.

The selection of six winners will share a total prize of $25,000.

Photo Courtesy: The VERITAS Collaboration, the VLBA 43 GHz M 87 Monitoring Team, the H.E.S.S. Collaboration, and the MAGIC Collaboration
The Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System is a collection of four 12-meter Cherenkov telescopes used to detect astrophysical sources of very-high-energy gamma rays.
Physicists Pinpoint Origin of Gamma Rays
An international collaboration of 390 scientists reports the discovery of an outburst of very-high-energy (VHE) gamma radiation from the giant radio galaxy Messier 87 (M 87). A strong rise of the radio flux, measured from the direct vicinity of its supermassive black hole, accompanied this outburst.

The combined results give first experimental evidence that particles are accelerated to extremely high energies in the immediate vicinity of a supermassive black hole and then emit the observed gamma rays. The gamma rays have energies a trillion times higher than the energy of visible light.

Washington University scientists Matthias Beilicke, a postdoctoral research associate in physics in Arts & Sciences, and Henric Krawczynski, associate professor of physics, worked with the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) to coordinate this cooperative project.

James H. Buckley, professor of physics, is a founding member of the VERITAS collaboration, and he works closely with Krawczynski on the VERITAS project. The Washington University group, which Buckley leads, plays a key role in a number of publications describing discoveries made by the newly commissioned VERITAS experiment.

Genetic Mutation Makes Cancer Radiation Resistant
Many cancerous tumors possess a genetic mutation that disables a tumor suppressor called PTEN. Now researchers at the School of Medicine are showing why inactivation of PTEN allows tumors to resist radiation therapy.

The PTEN gene produces a protein found in almost all tissues in the body. This protein acts as a tumor suppressor by preventing cells from growing and dividing too rapidly. Mutations in PTEN are frequently found in prostate cancer and endometrial cancer, melanoma, and certain aggressive brain tumors.

Because tumors with PTEN mutations are often resistant to radiation therapy, Tej K. Pandita, a researcher with the Siteman Cancer Center at the School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and his colleagues are probing and asking why. Their findings could enable researchers to develop drugs that overcome that resistance and increase the effectiveness of radiation treatments for cancer patients.

They demonstrate that PTEN-deficient cells have defective checkpoints. As cells grow and divide, they pass through several phases. Checkpoints operate during each phase and assess whether a cell is healthy enough to continue growing and dividing. If not, signals from checkpoints should tell the cell to wait until repairs are made or should induce the cell to die.

“The defective checkpoints contribute to radioresistance,” says Pandita, associate professor of radiation oncology and of genetics. “When a cell gets damaged by radiation, normally checkpoints will make it stop growing to repair the damage. If the checkpoints are working but the cell has a defective DNA repair system, the cell will be radiosensitive. But if the checkpoints don’t operate, the cell can bypass DNA repair and continue to grow. Then the cells are radioresistant.”

The results indicate that to increase radiation sensitivity in tumors with PTEN mutations, it will be necessary to develop drugs that correct for the faulty checkpoint processes, Pandita says.

Ten students received Fulbright Scholarships for the 2009–10 academic year. The winners include Natalie Alm, Bobbie Bigby, Laurie Bonkowski, Courtney Caruso, Nicholas Efremov-Kendall, Anne Marie Gray, Jill Mead, Michael Raish, Maria Rosebury, and Nancy Twilley. These students will spend a full academic year in a host country.

Two doctoral students received Fulbright-Hays grants to conduct research abroad in the 2009–10 academic year. The winners are Megan Ference and Beverly Levine.

Three faculty members received inaugural Arts & Sciences awards: Mary Ann Dzuback, associate professor and director of women, gender, and sexuality studies and associate professor of education and adjunct associate professor of history; Elzbieta Sklodowska, the Randolph Family Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; and Thomas J. Bernatowicz, professor of physics. Dzuback and Sklodowska received the Arts & Sciences Distinguished Leadership Award, and Bernatowicz received the David Hadas Teaching Award.

Three professors were named Faculty Fellows in the Office of the Provost: Marion G. Crain, the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law; Mark Rollins, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy in Arts & Sciences, and Elzbieta Sklodowska, the Randolph Family Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures.

Four faculty members in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts’ College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design received 2009 Design Awards from the St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The winners include Patricia Heyda, lecturer in urban design and architecture; John Hoal, associate professor and chair of the Master of Urban Design Program; Gia Daskalakis, associate professor of architecture; and Philip Holden, senior lecturer in architecture.

C. Michael Crowder, associate professor of anesthesiology, was named the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor in Anesthesiology at the School of Medicine.

Ralph Damiano, Jr., the John M. Shoenberg Professor of Surgery and chief of cardiac surgery, was named president-elect of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery and president of the Society of Clinical Surgery.

Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth received the 2009 American Society of Plant Biologists Leadership in Science Public Service Award.

Gerald W. Dorn II, professor of internal medicine, was named the Philip and Sima K. Needleman Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine.

James W. Fleshman, Jr., professor of surgery and chief of the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery, was elected president of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery.

Robert Heider, adjunct faculty in the Department of Energy, Environmental, & Chemical Engineering, was elected a Fellow of the International Society of Automation. Heider also received a Master of Manufacturing Engineering in 1996 from Washington University.

Raj Jain, professor of computer science and engineering, received the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing–Advanced Computing and Communications Society Foundation Award.

David T. Konig, professor of history, of African & African American studies, and director of the Legal Studies Program, all in Arts & Sciences, and professor of law was honored by St. Louis Public Schools. The school system named an award after him: the David Thomas Konig Middle/Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award.

Karen Margo was promoted to executive director of development for the Olin Business School.

Kelle H. Moley, vice chair for basic science research and director of the Division of Basic Science Research in obstetrics and gynecology, was named the first James P. Crane Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the School of Medicine.

Alec Patterson, the Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, received the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation’s President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Carl Phillips, professor of English and of African & African American studies, was named a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in poetry. He was nominated for his 10th collection of poetry, Speak Low.

Joel D. Schilling, instructor in medicine in the Cardiovascular Division, won the Jay N. Cohn New Investigator Award in Basic Science from the Heart Failure Society of America.

Larry J. Shapiro, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, was named chair-elect of the board of the Association of Academic Health Centers.

Lilianna Solnica-Krezel was chosen to head the Department of Developmental Biology at the School of Medicine.

Brad W. Warner, professor of surgery and of pediatrics and pediatric surgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, was named the Jessie L. Ternberg, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor in Pediatric Surgery at the School of Medicine.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton received the John D. Levy Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee.

Sijie Dai (left), Engineering Class of ’11, is the recipient of an annual scholarship for engineering students with the greatest need, sponsored by Sunil Hirani (right), BSCS ’88, and his wife, Blanca. (Photo: Geoff Story, TOKY Branding + Design)

Scholarship Initiative to Start
Opening Doors to the Future
Washington University’s Board of Trustees authorized a fundraising initiative to increase support for student scholarships.

Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University has a goal of raising $150 million to support scholarships and fellowships. A formal kickoff took place November 7, and the effort will continue through June 30, 2014.

“Our Scholarship Initiative will help to ensure that no deserving student ever has to turn down the opportunity for a Washington University education because he or she doesn’t have the resources to afford it,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

“Scholarships transform lives—not only for students but for society,” says Robert L. Virgil, executive chair of the Scholarship Initiative. Virgil is a trustee of the University, former dean of the Olin Business School, and retired partner in the St. Louis–based investment firm of Edward Jones.

“Washington University is a place where outstanding students prepare to become leaders in medicine, law, government, scientific research, education, public policy, business, and the arts,” says Virgil. “Many deserving students just need the opportunity to turn their extraordinary potential into achievement. Their future is our future—and a scholarship is an investment that benefits us all for years to come.”

Opening Doors to the Future will help create scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students. The Initiative will encourage contributions of both endowed and expendable scholarship funds. It also will promote support for stipends and financial aid for students pursuing internships, research opportunities, and study abroad programs.

Today, more than half of WUSTL’s undergraduate students receive some kind of financial assistance, which may include grants, loans, and work-study. Almost 22 percent of those students qualified for assistance totaling more than the cost of tuition. Graduate and professional students also receive substantial financial aid, including, for example, 82 percent of law students, 89 percent of medical students, and 92 percent of social work students.

When the Initiative started, the University was investing approximately $70 million annually in undergraduate financial assistance. Income from the University’s endowment provided only 17.6 percent of that, and the rest came from expendable gifts and other University resources.

More than 1,300 endowed scholarship and fellowship funds already have been established, but many more are needed to enable the University to continue to recruit talented students from a wide range of backgrounds.

A significant aspect of the Scholarship Initiative is a $2 million challenge grant, intended to encourage new and increased annual scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students from alumni, parents, and friends.

John F. McDonnell, former chairman and now vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp., established the Scholarship Initiative’s challenge grant.

“Washington University students all share extraordinary potential to make a difference in the world, and I am happy to support their efforts,” says McDonnell.

Wrighton is optimistic that University supporters will rise to the McDonnell Challenge and recognize the value of investing in students and their future contributions to society.

To qualify for the match, a gift must meet certain criteria, which are available from the Office of Alumni and Development Programs.