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Those who rage with frustration during a marital spat have an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as chest pain or high blood pressure later in life, according to new research from Northwestern University and the University of California, Claudia HaaseBerkeley.

Conversely, shutting down emotionally or “stonewalling” during conflict raises the risk of musculoskeletal ailments such as a bad back or stiff muscles, according to the study, published online in the journal Emotion.

It’s well known that negative emotions may harm physical health, but it turns out that not all negative emotions have equal consequences. Using 20 years of data, and controlling for such factors as age, education, exercise, smoking, alcohol use and caffeine consumption, the researchers were able to connect specific emotions to corresponding health problems.

“Conflict happens in every marriage, but people deal with it in different ways,"  said study lead author Claudia Haase, an assistant professor of human development and social policy in Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy. "Some of us explode with anger while some of us shut down. Our study shows that these different emotional behaviors can predict the development of different health problems in the long run.”

Overall, the link between emotions and health outcomes was most pronounced for husbands, but some of the key correlations also were found in wives. The researchers analyzed married couples in the throes of tense conversations for just 15 minutes, but that was long enough to predict the development of health problems over 20 years later.

The findings could spur hotheads to consider such interventions as anger management, while people who withdraw during conflict might benefit from resisting the impulse to bottle up their emotions, the researchers said.

“Our findings reveal a new level of precision in how emotions are linked to health, and how our behaviors over time can predict the development of negative health outcomes,” said UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson, senior author of the study.

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During a recent visit to the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, a group of Medill journalism students learned that there is often more to the story than the “who, what, when, where, why.”


Visitors to the Menominee Nation are overwhelmed by the forest, which expands in every direction for more than 200,000 acres, and the Wolf River, its life source, that traces the history of the Menominee people to their ancestral roots. The Menominee people who live on the reservation continue to teach their language to their children and practice the customs of their earliest relatives.

A group of Northwestern University undergraduates and aspiring journalists spent a weekend on the Menominee Reservation last month as part of an assignment that tasks each student with producing a video oral history interview and reporting on urban American Indians living in the Chicago area.

"I wanted the students to get a sense of how important the land is in the minds of their interview subjects -- many of whom are Native Americans who relocated to Chicago -- and what they felt about the place they had come from," said Loren Ghiglione, a journalism professor who led the trip.

The students visited the College of Menominee Nation, toured parts of the forest, walked along the river, participated in the annual Sturgeon Feast and witnessed a pow-wow celebration, complete with traditional tribal dances and games.

The goal of Ghiglione’s class was to learn about Chicago’s Native Americans, who are part of an important but underreported story in North America. The purpose of the trip was to introduce the students to the Menominee culture, customs and history so that the budding journalists will have a deeper understanding of urban American Indians in Chicago.

"In journalism, we learn a lot about simplifying things to the 'who, what, when, where, why,' but there's more to these stories than that," said Medill junior Samuel Park. "The people and the culture are complex, and your story telling also has be complex." 

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Chad A. Mirkin, Northwestern University professor, entrepreneur and world leader in nanotechnology research and its application, received the international 2016 Dan David Prize in the Future Time Dimension at an awards ceremony May 22 at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Mirkin was honored for his innovative research in nanotechnology and medicine, which holds great promise for improvement of our world. The Dan David Prize specifically recognizes his invention of spherical nucleic acids, which couple human DNA and nanotechnology and could improve diagnostics and medical treatments.

“The ceremony was an extraordinary honor, celebration and experience,” Mirkin said. “The Dan David Prize is a major milestone for my research group and Northwestern science, engineering and medicine at large. Having President Schapiro on stage at the awards ceremony made it an especially rewarding and memorable event.”

In addition to Mirkin’s family, a small group of Northwestern officials attended the ceremony. They included President Morton Schapiro; Robert McQuinn, vice president for alumni relations and development; Nim Chinniah, executive vice president; Philip Harris, vice president and general counsel; and Michael Bedzyk and Monica Olvera de la Cruz, professors of materials science and engineering.

The Dan David Prize annually awards three $1 million prizes for outstanding achievements in the three time dimensions -- past, present and future. This year, the future time dimension prize recognizes innovative and interdisciplinary research that cuts across traditional boundaries and paradigms in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Mirkin, the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, shares the $1 million future time dimension prize with Paul Alivisatos, University of California, Berkeley, and Sir John Pendry, Imperial College London. Alivisatos and Pendry also attended the May 22 ceremony.

Mirkin is a pioneer in a unique frontier. For the past two decades, he has been repackaging and chemically modifying DNA, the genetic blueprint of life, and its sister nucleic acid, RNA, in new forms and tacking them on to nanoparticles in a quest to achieve new breakthroughs, especially in the health sciences. His work has led to the invention of 3-D structures called spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) that have chemical and physical properties that are radically different from what is found in nature.

Read the full story here.

Even before infants understand their first words, they have already begun to link language and thought. Listening to language boosts infant cognition. New evidence provides even greater insight into the crucial role of language exposure in infants’ first months of life, according to Northwestern University research.


Prior research has found that infants come into the world equipped with an initially broad link, one that encompasses the communicative signals of both humans and nonhuman primates. At 3 months old, listening to both human and nonhuman primate (lemur) vocalizations supports infants’ ability to form categories, a building block of cognition. But by 6 months, the link has narrowed, with only human vocalizations supporting categorization. Infants’ initially broad link to cognition is sculpted by their experience.

Northwestern researchers sought to understand what mechanisms underlie this rapid tuning process and document in a new study the crucial role of experience as infants tune this link specifically to human language.

In the experiments, the researchers found that merely exposing 6-month-old infants to nonhuman primate vocalizations permits them to preserve, rather than sever, their early link between these signals and categorization. Exposing infants to backward human speech -- a signal that fails to support categorization in the first year of life -- does not have this advantage.

“This new evidence illuminates the central role of early experience as infants specify which signals, from an initially broad set, they will continue to link to core cognitive capacities,” said Danielle R. Perszyk, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

The research, which underscores the importance of language exposure in the first months of life, also has far-reaching implications for early language and cognitive development.

“It provides a unique vantage point from which to consider the intricate interface between capacities inherent in the human infant and the shaping force of experience,” said Sandra Waxman, senior author of the study, director of the Project on Child Development, faculty fellow in Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research and the Louis W. Menk Chair in Psychology at Northwestern.

“Although experience may play little, if any role, in picking out the broad set of signals that infants first link to cognition, here we show that experience is essential in guiding infants, with increasing precision, to single out which signals from the initially privileged set they will continue to link to meaning and which they will tune out,” Waxman said.

“Listening to the calls of the wild: The role of experience in linking language and cognition in young infants” will publish in an upcoming issue of Cognition.

View the original story here.

Seven current and former members of the Las Vegas Review-Journal staff are the recipients of the 2015 James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for their coverage of the newspaper’s sale to the family of billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson. Glenn Cook, James DeHaven, Eric Hartley, Jennifer Robison, John L. Smith, Howard Stutz and James G. Wright received the honor.

“This award was created to honor courage in journalism – moral, physical, ethical, financial or political,” said Medill alumnus and co-judge Dick Stolley.  “Because of the violent world we have to cover, journalists displaying physical courage have often been the winners, and justifiably so.  This year is different. The staff of this newspaper displayed great courage in its coverage of a dramatic change in management in order to keep the public informed of news critical to their community. They risked their livelihood, careers and reputations in insisting on the kind of courageous journalism our medal was invented to celebrate. We are proud of them and of our choice.”

The Story

The announcement in December 2015 that the newspaper had been sold to a new and unnamed holding company, News + Media Capital Group LLC, sparked instant controversy, said Managing Editor Glenn Cook, who nominated the staff for Medill’s award.

“Everyone knew immediately that the anonymous purchase of a major daily American newspaper was unprecedented, and that secret ownership of the Review-Journal created an immediate ethical and credibility crisis not just for the newspaper, but for everyone employed by it,” Cook said. “How could reporters disclose potential conflicts of interest if they didn’t know who they worked for? How could readers trust them?”

Review-Journal staff quickly learned that reporting on their new owners would be difficult because, under the deal, GateHouse had been retained to operate the newspaper. Without telling the newsroom, someone at the GateHouse Media Design Center in Austin, Texas, ordered the Review-Journal’s presses stopped so quotes from News + Media Capital Group LLC Manager Michael Schroeder and then-Editor Mike Hengel could be removed from a story announcing the sale.

Reporters James DeHaven, Howard Stutz and Jennifer Robison, led by Deputy Editor James G. Wright, worked their sources until the shell company started to crack. An editorial by Cook (who at the time was the Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer) compared the lack of transparency in local teacher contract talks to his own paper’s lack of openness. Finally, on Dec. 16, the R-J was ready to report that Adelson’s son-in-law was behind the purchase. The scoop was ready to publish online at 2:30 p.m. but it languished, awaiting clearance from management. At 7:25 p.m., Hengel ordered the story posted.

Read the full story here.

A night set aside to celebrate two Broadway stars turned into a tour de force for one. Brian d’Arcy James, star of stage and screen (with his recent role in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight), delighted the capacity crowd at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on May 16 with his talent and kindness.

The annual Sarah Siddons Society Actor of the Year celebration included testimonials about the winners (d’Arcy James and actress Sutton Foster), the announcement of scholarship honorees, and a variety of music theater performances. But the night belonged to d’Arcy James, the 1990 School of Communication alumnus who graciously accepted his honor but also performed three numbers, including “Who I’d Be” from Shrek the Musical in place of Foster, who was unable to attend.

Barbara O’Keefe, dean of the School of Communication, acknowledged the good works of the Siddons Society, which bestows scholarships and “honors great actors for their career achievements, something we care a lot about.”

She heralded the “long and robust friendship” of the Society and Northwestern and talked about how happy she was that the University could co-host this year’s event and celebrate “two individuals with such deep roots in our community.”

D’Arcy James “is an alumnus, a four-year member of the Waa-Mu cast and crew, and someone who was featured in several plays and musicals … when he was a student here,” O’Keefe said. In addition, Foster recently had served as a visiting artist in the Department of Theatre.

While Foster wasn’t present, she sent along her thanks. It was “such an honor to be recognized in this way and to share this with my friend and colleague Brian d’Arcy James,” she wrote, calling it “humbling and truly an honor.”

Dominic Missimi, artistic director of the Siddons Society, emeritus professor of theatre, and a fixture in the Chicago music theater scene, offered his own high praise Monday night, saluting d’Arcy James as “a great artist.”

The primary mission of the Siddons Society is to raise money for deserving music theatre students at four Chicago-area schools: Columbia College, Roosevelt University, DePaul University, and Northwestern. But its annual award event is what brings in the crowds.

After performances from Northwestern theatre students and alumni, including former Siddons scholarship winners Christine Mild and Michael Mahler, theatre alumna Kate Baldwin took the stage to introduce d’Arcy James, whom she called “the nicest man in show business.”

Read the full story here.

Northwestern University's Global Humanities Initiative and Northwestern University Press have created the $5,000 Global Humanities Translation Prize for translators.


Northwestern University Press will publish the winning work, which will be selected annually by a rotating committee of distinguished international scholars, writers and public intellectuals.

The Global Humanities Translation Prize recognizes writing that strikes a nuanced balance of scholarly rigor, aesthetic grace, and general readability, especially those that introduce a wider audience to:

  • Underrepresented and experimental literary voices from marginalized communities
  • Humanistic scholarship in infrequently translated languages
  • Important classical texts in non-Western traditions and languages


The Global Humanities Initiative was co-founded in the fall of 2015 by Laura Brueck, an associate professor of Indian literature in the department of Asian languages and cultures, and Rajeev Kinra, an associate professor in the department of history in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.


The initiative is supported by Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Studies and Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

“Our goal is to bring much-needed attention not only to the rich humanistic traditions of the non-West, but also to the relevance of those traditions for global development and public policy,” Brueck said.

Added Kinra: “It places Northwestern University at the center of a vital international conversation about the continuing role of the humanities in building a more just, tolerant and humane 21st century.”

Founded in 1893, Northwestern University Press publishes works of enduring scholarly and cultural value, extending the university’s mission to a community of readers throughout the world. The Press has an international reputation for publishing translations of scholarly work, fiction, drama and poetry.

“The Press’s partnership with the Global Humanities Initiative is part of our long tradition of bringing exceptional translations of important works to an English-speaking audience,” said Jane Bunker, director of Northwestern University Press. “We expect that this award will bring a renewed measure of academic prestige to the craft of translation itself.”

Interested translators may apply for the inaugural award through August 1, 2016. For submission instructions, visit the Global Humanities Initiative website or email


View the original story here.

Elizabeth “Beth” Lewis Pardoe, senior associate director of the Office of Fellowships at Northwestern University, will succeed

Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe

current director Sara Vaux when she retires Aug. 31, 2016.


Pardoe first joined the Office of Fellowships in September 2006 and was quickly promoted to associate director and then senior associate director, reflecting her substantial talents in cultivating students’ interests and connecting them to resources that develop them as engaged citizens of the world.


To her appointment as director, Pardoe brings a deep commitment to the university, knowledge of the Evanston community and understanding of national and international educational opportunities.


Pardoe truly bleeds purple. She grew up in Evanston with a faculty father, was a high school debate member in The Cherubs, a Northwestern-based summer debate program for outstanding high school students, and returned to Northwestern for her undergraduate degree in history. She honed her interests in the development of culturally diverse educational institutions during a summer ethnographic field study in Arizona about the educational experiences of Navajo students and a junior year abroad in Germany.  A precursor to the undergraduate research grant allowed Pardoe to conduct senior thesis research in Philadelphia, which later evolved into her doctoral dissertation.


In addition to her roles on planning and selection committees for the National Association of Fellowship Advisors and the Marshall Scholarship, Pardoe has taught in the American Studies Program and in the history department at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, she serves as a fellow of Shepard Residential College, an adviser to the social service organization Alpha Phi Omega and secretary of Phi Beta Kappa’s East Central District. She also sits on the Board of Directors for The Alumnae of Northwestern University, an all-volunteer group of women that has given more than $7.5 million in fellowships, scholarships and awards to faculty and students during the past 100 years.


“Beth has an outstanding set of knowledge, skills and experiences that position her to lead the Office of Fellowships,” said Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education. “I look forward to working with her and to continuing to build upon the substantial successes of the office under Sara Vaux’s leadership.”


Pardoe completed two masters degrees as a Marshall Scholar at the University of Cambridge and earned her PhD at Princeton University, supported by dissertation fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Princeton’s Center for Human Values.  Her scholarship on religious and ethnic diversity in Reformation Europe and colonial North America has appeared in German and American publications.  In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Inside Higher Ed Blog, University of Venus.  Each May, Pardoe, her husband and their two sons enjoy hosting Northwestern’s British Scholarships Garden Party at their Evanston home.


See the original story here.

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law has added two significant curricular options -- a concentration of courses and a lab -- designed to help graduates succeed in the technologically driven global economy.

The Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship concentration will expose students to the issues that drive the innovation process and to the role of technology in the modern economy.

The Innovation Lab will focus on the legal, business, technical, teamwork, design and presentation skills involved in the innovation process and allow students to put those skills to work in designing a commercial product that will solve a legal problem.


Together these curricular initiatives will prepare graduates to navigate complex legal issues related to innovation, gain exposure to evolving legal practice technologies and develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

“Relentless innovation raises countless strategic, legal and regulatory considerations, and technology often gets in front of the law,” said Daniel Rodriguez, dean of the Law School. “These curriculum enhancements will address the critical need for lawyers and technologists to collaborate early and often.

“To navigate the evolving needs and expectations of employers and clients, students need to be exposed to issues that drive the innovation process and the role of technology in today’s economy,” he said.

Northwestern Law has long been a leader in law and business. The school has been a pioneer in providing multi-disciplinary legal and business training through its JD-MBA program, the nation’s largest, the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center (DPELC) and, most recently, the Master of Science in Law (MSL) program.

The Entrepreneurship Law Center has served close to 1,000 clients since its creation in 1998. Under the supervision of faculty, students work together to represent a variety of business ventures on projects ranging from intellectual property protection to drafting founders’ agreements and customer contracts.

“These new initiatives represent an important development in the DPELC as we continue to build a robust interdisciplinary learning environment,” said Esther Barron, clinical professor of law and director of the DPELC. “The DPELC strives to prepare our students not only to be successful lawyers but to also play valuable roles as members of entrepreneurial teams.”

Read the full story here.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is used to repair aortic stenosis, a condition that occurs when the aortic valve narrows, limiting blood flow to the heart.

A minimally invasive procedure to repair aortic stenosis may be preferable to open-heart surgery when treating patients at intermediate risk of surgical mortality, according to a recent observational study co-led by Northwestern Medicine investigator S. Chris Malaisrie, MD, andpublished in The Lancet.

Aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve narrows, limiting blood flow to the heart. It’s usually caused by age-related scarring and calcium buildup in the valve cusp – a flap that opens to allow blood flow through the valve. The standard of care for aortic stenosis has been open-heart surgery to replace the damaged valve, but this treatment is too risky for some patients.

One alternative to open-heart surgery is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a procedure in which a collapsible replacement valve is inserted into the heart through a catheter. Previous research has shown that TAVR is safe and effective for high-risk patients. The new study evaluated this method for intermediate-risk patients.

“The study showed that a third generation transcatheter valve called SAPIEN 3 seemed to be superior to standard aortic valve replacement in patients with aortic stenosis who we considered to have intermediate risk of surgical mortality,” said Malaisrie, an associate professor ofSurgery in the Division of Cardiac Surgery, who was principal investigator of the study’s Northwestern site.

The investigators assessed 1,077 intermediate-risk patients who received TAVR at 51 sites in North America and compared their results to patients who received open-heart surgery for surgical valve replacement. A year after surgery, the patients treated with TAVR had superior outcomes, including better rates of survival, stroke incidence and re-intervention.

“Lower-risk patients now have another option for their treatment that appears to be just as good as open-heart surgery,” Malaisrie said. “In some centers, TAVR will become the favored option.”

A major benefit of TAVR is that recovery time in the hospital is just three days, compared to five days for open-heart surgery.

In a future study, Malaisrie and his colleagues plan to test TAVR in low-risk patients.

Edwards Lifesciences, the manufacturer of the SAPIEN 3 transcatheter valve, supported some of this research. Malaisrie did not receive compensation from the company for his work in the trial.

View the original story here.

Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, IL, USA

Faculty, staff, and students from Northwestern University’s Qatar campus introduced individual scholars and their research efforts as well as students showcasing journalistic projects, documentary films, and undergraduate research during a week-long series of events on the Evanston campus.

“Connections between the Qatar campus and its home campus in Evanston offers a vision of NU’s 12th school and only international campus at a time when the university is accelerating its global activities,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

Speaking to the Association for Higher Education Administrators' Development (AHEAD@NU) on "At Home Abroad: Northwestern's First International Campus,” Dennis provided an overview of the history of Northwestern’s campus in Qatar, which he said began with a simple letter to the president of Northwestern asking if it was interested in collaborating with Qatar in creating a journalism and communication school in Doha.”

Dennis told the group that the collaboration between Northwestern and the Qatar Foundations is essential to building a strong academic program, and encouraging freedom of expression and the development of robust media industries in the country, which he said has a “sense of destiny and wants to play a role on the world stage.” He also presented a video of NU-Q’s new building, which the school will be moving to in 2017.

At a faculty colloquium hosted by the the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Klaus Schoenbach, associate dean of research, Urooj Kamran Azmi, a student at NU-Q, and Dean Dennis provided faculty with an overview of the collaborative research taking place at NU-Q.

Schoenbach told the group that the research taking place at NU-Q includes institutional research, and faculty and student research. Pointing to what he referred to as the school’s “signature research program,” Schoenbach discussed NU-Q’s first ever Media Industries Report and the fourth annual Media Use Survey, which focuses on finding out what people are doing with media in six countries in the Middle East. A short video on the 2016 survey, which was released in early May was also presented.

Read the full story here.

Library_Laptop_Girl.jpgCHICAGO --- Exposure to bright light could affect your metabolism, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.


Northwestern scientists found bright light exposure increased insulin resistance compared to dim light exposure in both the morning and the evening. In the evening, bright light also caused higher peak glucose (blood sugar) levels.


Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to adequately move glucose out of the bloodstream, resulting in a buildup of blood sugar. Over time, the excess blood glucose could result in increased body fat, weight gain and a higher risk for diabetes.


“These results provide further evidence that bright light exposure may influence metabolism,” said Kathryn Reid, senior study author and a research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


“It’s cool that bright light has this effect, but we don’t understand why yet,” Reid said.  “In theory, you could use light to manipulate metabolic function.”


Previous research by Northwestern scientists showed that people who received the majority of their bright light in the morning weighed less than those who were exposed to most of their bright light after 12 p.m. The researchers wanted to understand why. Mouse studies also have shown that mice kept in constant light have altered glucose metabolism and gain weight compared to control mice.


“Our findings show that insulin was unable to acutely bring glucose levels back to a baseline level following a meal with bright light exposure in the evening,” said first author Ivy Cheung, a postdoctoral fellow in neurology at Feinberg. “The results of this study emphasize that our lighting environment impacts our health outcomes.”


The paper was published May 18 in the journal PLOS ONE.


There is increasing evidence that light and dark exposure patterns over time impact health outcomes such as body weight and food intake. The aim of the Northwestern study was to examine the acute effects of three hours of morning or evening blue-enriched light exposure compared to dim light on hunger, metabolic function and physiological arousal.


Nineteen healthy adults were randomized to three hours of blue-enriched light exposure starting either 0.5 hours after waking (morning group) or 10.5 hours after waking (evening group). Each person’s results were compared to their dim light exposure results as a baseline. The morning group ate breakfast in the light; the evening group ate dinner in the light.


The study showed blue-enriched light exposure acutely altered metabolic function in both the morning and the evening compared to dim light. While morning and evening blue-enriched light exposure both resulted in higher insulin resistance, evening blue-enriched light led to higher peak glucose. This suggests a greater inability of insulin to adequately compensate for the increase in glucose in the evening.


Other Northwestern authors include Dr. Phyllis Zee and Dr. Roneil Malkani.


The study was supported by grant 5T32HL790915 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; Philips Lifestyle Research Grant 2011 and other sources.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

American_Flag.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Karl Eikenberry, the former American ambassador to Afghanistan and a retired Army lieutenant general, will discuss U.S. civil-military relations in a talk at Northwestern University.


Eikenberry’s speech, “America and Its Military: Drifting Apart,” will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, in the McCormick Foundation Center, 1870 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public.


It has been more than four decades since the end of conscription in the United States and the establishment of an all-volunteer force. While the capabilities of America’s military are unrivaled today, there are signs that the all-volunteer force model is under stress, including huge personnel costs, repetitive combat deployments and isolation from the citizens that the armed forces are entrusted to serve and protect. Eikenberry will address the political, economic and foreign policy challenges faced by the United States in deciding the organizing principles for its military. 


At the event, Northwestern also will announce that in recognition of National Military Appreciation Month, the University is increasing its financial support for the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides funding for military veterans to attend Northwestern, and making donations to a wide range of other veterans organizations.


Eikenberry is the Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow and Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at Stanford University’s Asia-Pacific Research Center and a Stanford University Professor of Practice. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 2009 until July 2011 and had a 35-year career in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant general.


He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in East Asian studies and Stanford University in political science, was awarded an interpreter’s certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has an advanced degree in Chinese history from Nanjing University. He is also the recipient of the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service and Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal.


Eikenberry is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a board member of The Asia Foundation and council member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. His articles and essays on U.S. and international security issues have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, American Foreign Policy Interests, American Interest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and The Financial Times.


Eikenberry’s talk is sponsored by the Buffett Institute of Northwestern University.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

exelon638.jpgInside the laser lab at the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), teams use advanced spectroscopy to examine how molecules respond to light, insights from which could spur “green” innovations. (Photo credit: Monika Wnuk)


EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University, its Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) and Exelon Corporation announced today the formation of a five-year strategic research partnership focused on clean energy innovation.


“We couldn’t be more excited about this important alliance,” said Michael R. Wasielewski, ISEN’s executive director. “Scaling basic discovery energy science for systems-level innovation is a tremendous bottleneck for academia and industry alike. Leading energy companies at the cutting-edge of the electric power grid, such as Exelon, are ideal partners for Northwestern and its entire research enterprise.”


The Northwestern-Exelon Master Research Agreement will provide for an initial five-year period of research around a robust project portfolio, including grid management and resilience, energy storage and renewable technologies.


“With the energy landscape evolving faster than ever, Exelon is building relationships with top research centers to create an ecosystem for advancing energy technology and ingenuity,” said Chris Crane, Exelon president and CEO. “This partnership brings together Exelon’s industry and market expertise with Northwestern’s deep research capabilities. It is an important step in our work to uncover and bring to life the very latest innovations that can benefit our company, our customers and the communities we serve.”


The partnership is designed to streamline the process for evaluating, testing and scaling scientific discoveries made in Northwestern labs for commercial use. Discoveries in research could have immediate and tangible implications on the way energy is produced, transmitted and consumed in the United States.


“Future sustainability and energy solutions lay at the intersection of science, policy and economics,” said Jay Walsh, vice president for research at Northwestern. “ISEN is ideally positioned to lead Northwestern’s interdisciplinary commitment to these global challenges. This innovation-focused partnership with Exelon allows both organizations to capitalize on the tremendous scope of opportunity that exists as we transition to a 21st-century grid.”


Northwestern has several active “master” agreements in areas of strategic importance for the University. The agreement with Exelon is the first with an electric power company.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>


Access to water has significantly influenced the historical and geopolitical landscape of Israel and the Middle East. A public half-day symposium May 18 and a new seminar course this quarter, both focused on this subject, reflect partnerships between Northwestern and Israel on water sustainability.


EVANSTON, Ill. --- International experts will explore how control and access to water play into trans-boundary politics at “Water in Israel and the Middle East: Geopolitical Conflicts, Technological Challenges, and Sustainable Solutions,” a half-day symposium to be held May 18 at Northwestern University.


Access to water has significantly influenced the historical and geopolitical landscape of Israel and the Middle East. At the symposium, scholars will discuss how recent advances in water technologies in Israel may provide a model for sustainable water development in other water-poor regions of the world.


“Israel is a world leader in developing innovative solutions for sustainable water resources in arid lands,” said Aaron Packman, director of the Northwestern Center for Water Research. “The symposium on water in Israel and the Middle East will explore technological and sociopolitical solutions for regional water challenges.”


The symposium, co-organized by the Northwestern Center for Water Research and the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in room 108, Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public.


The symposium will kick off with opening remarks by Julio Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering, and Adrian Randolph, dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.


Following their remarks will be two sessions, moderated by Packman and Elie Rekhess, the Crown Visiting Professor in Israel Studies at Northwestern, focusing on water management and reuse in Israel and transboundary water issues in the Middle East. Featured participants include:


  • Sara Elhanany, director of the water quality division of the National Water Monitoring Laboratory, Israel Water Authority
  • Noam Weisbrod, director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, where he also is the head of the department of environmental hydrology and microbiology
  • Stuart Schoenfeld, associate professor at Glendon College and at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability, York University, Canada
  • Jeffrey Sosland, assistant professor in the School of Professional and Extended Studies, American University, and director of the Washington Semester Program: Global Economics and Business


“We hope this event will inform students, faculty and the public of critical international water challenges and also catalyze new partnerships that will enable the Northwestern community to contribute solutions for global water sustainability and security,” said Packman, professor of civil and environmental engineering at McCormick.


The symposium reflects partnerships between Northwestern and Israel on water sustainability. This quarter, Northwestern offered “Water in Israel and the Middle East: Geopolitical Conflicts, Technological Challenges, and Sustainable Solutions,” the first Israel Studies course of its kind at the University. It is a cross-school seminar course with an interdisciplinary focus on water, co-taught by Packman and Rekhess. The seminar focuses on water issues in Israel and the Middle East, including the centrality of water systems in the region from ancient times to present day, how water scarcity spurs innovation in water use, and the potential for improved water management to increase regional sustainability.


The seminar course and May 18 symposium are part of Northwestern’s strategic effort on behalf of Israel Studies to develop collaborations in the development and teaching of new courses that pertain to Israeli academic breakthroughs in technology and science.


“Water sustainability and security are pressing global challenges, particularly in regions where water scarcity contributes to social unrest and political conflicts,” Rekhess said.


Northwestern established the interdisciplinary Northwestern Center for Water Research in March to raise awareness of water issues and potential solutions in the U.S. and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative science and technology. The Water Center will integrate research efforts across the University and focus on long-term solutions to ensure water security and sustainability, both regionally and globally.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

piper175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill.  --- What should caregivers do when their loved one is checking in on social media at the bank, essentially announcing their whereabouts? What if they are posting too often or don’t remember making online purchases?


In the age of online living, caregivers lack support, resources and guidelines to help the vulnerable people who rely on them, according to an initial study, to be presented Thursday at the Association for Computing Machinery Computer Human Interaction (ACM-CHI) conference in San Jose, California.


The study is one of the first to examine the role of caregivers in the online lives of adults with cognitive impairments from Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. In a world where many everyday activities have moved online, caregivers face a new challenge: finding a balance between autonomy and protection of care recipients.


“We want people to stay independent and engaged online, but current online systems make it difficult to help people in a way that empowers them without reducing their access,” said lead researcher Anne Marie Piper, assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Northwestern’s School of Communication.


“E-mail and social media sites aren’t designed to have a caregiver come alongside someone with cognitive impairments and help them stay active online.”


The researchers used focus groups consisting of 20 people informally caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other brain-related conditions. They detailed four main ways caregivers currently help people with cognitive impairments use the Internet -- guiding, stimulating, connecting, and protecting, -- with guidelines about how to improve those dynamics.


Caregivers could set up family accounts to support home computer use among family members. They also should learn how to recognize when vulnerability may be transitional, such as a gradual recovery after a stroke or a progression from early to late stage dementia.


Finally, the researchers recommended implementing a system that would allow caregivers to detect risky online situations. For example, if a password or credit card were disclosed, a transaction would be held for review by the primary caregiver. These ideas, however, raise new ethical questions about who has control over a person’s online life, Piper said.


“Technological caregiving is a new form of work,” Piper said. “We hear about the physical, financial and social stress of caregiving, but no one ever talks about the burden caregivers feel to keep people active online, which we feel is a fundamental part of participating in society.”


According to the study, caregivers support online activity in the following ways:


Guiding: Caregivers may help someone type words into a search engine or operate a mouse. Even previously tech-savvy care recipients may need to re-learn how to use a specific technology. “What’s challenging is that cognitive impairment is dynamic, and an individual’s needs may shift day-to-day or even moment-to-moment,” Piper said.


Stimulating: Social media can be a form of entertainment or stimulation. Caregivers play “brain games,” read news sites or view online photos of family members. “This interaction can help alleviate some of the burden of caregiving and provide a mutual source of enjoyment,” the study said. It also means caregivers have to spend time searching for content, identifying meaningful photos or videos and working it into a conversation.


Connecting: Facebook is a particularly important site for social support, caregivers said. In the study, they mentioned posting weekly updates on Facebook, Instagram, and The ways caregivers post online information “introduces tensions around surrogacy, privacy and information sharing for vulnerable populations,” the researchers wrote.


Protecting: Caregivers use spam filters and set restrictive privacy settings to help avoid phishing and to block harmful websites, friend requests or potentially upsetting information. They vigilantly watch for online financial threats. “The challenge is deciding when and under what circumstances a care recipient should not have access to credit card information required for online purchases,” the researchers wrote. “Sometimes it’s not until an adverse event like identity theft or overspending that the caregiver realizes they need to protect their care recipient online.”


In addition to Piper, the paper was coauthored by Northwestern's Raymundo Cornejo, Lisa Hurwitz and Caitlin Unumb.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

bazant175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Zdeněk P. Bažant has been selected to receive the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class, from the president of Austria.


Bažant will be honored by President Heinz Fischer at a May 11 ceremony in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.


The award, established in 1955, is bestowed on both Austrians and non-Austrians who have “distinguished themselves and earned general acclaim through especially superior creative and commendable services in the areas of the sciences or the arts.” Bažant is the only engineer to receive this honor since its founding.


“I am emotionally overwhelmed by this news,” said Bažant, a native of Prague. “My grandparents and previous ancestors were all Austrian citizens and had excellent careers as such. Because of defecting from communist Czechoslovakia, I was sentenced in absentia to jail in my native country and could not visit it for more than two decades. During that time, I liked to visit Austria, where it felt almost like home.”


Bažant is a McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with courtesy appointments in mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering, at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.


As a world leader in scaling research in solid mechanics, Bažant is perhaps best known for developing widely used models to assess the safety of large quasi-brittle structures, such as bridges, dams, tall buildings, ships, aircraft structures and rock structures.


Throughout his career, Bažant has received numerous awards and honors, including election into the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society of London, Academia Europaea and the Austrian, Czech, Italian and Spanish national academies, as well as seven honorary doctorates.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>



Seizure activity is strongly suppressed in the animal that received the aromatase inhibitor just after seizure onset (bottom two signals), whereas seizure activity continues in the control animal (top two signals). Yellow is an EEG recording, and blue is a way of quantifying power in the EEG recording.



EVANSTON, Ill. --- A class of drug that inhibits estrogen production and is used to treat breast cancer has been found to quickly and effectively suppress dangerous brain seizures, according to a new Northwestern University study.


“The effect was profound and very clear,” said Catherine S. Woolley, senior author of the study, which was conducted in a rat model of status epilepticus, a condition characterized by a prolonged episode of seizure activity. “This shows that clinically available drugs could be effective therapies for suppressing seizures in humans.”


Woolley and postdoctoral fellow Satoru M. Sato also discovered, to their surprise, that seizures stimulate the production of estrogens in the brain of both males and females and that this plays a previously unknown role in the escalation of seizure activity. Estrogen synthesis during a seizure fuels the seizure, making it worse.


The findings suggest a new approach to treating seizures in humans: shut down the brain’s production of estrogen when a seizure first begins. Current seizure treatments are not targeted; they work by dampening neural activity generally and come with many side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness or difficulty concentrating.


“Status epilepticus is a neurological emergency,” Woolley said. “This occurs when large groups of connected neurons fire excessively and in synchrony for a prolonged time. Recognizing that estrogen synthesis during seizures fuels seizure activity gives researchers a specific target for therapeutically breaking the dangerous escalation cycle.”


Woolley is the William Deering Chair in Biological Sciences, professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


The study, published this week as a Research Article by the online life sciences and biomedicine journal eLife, builds on past work showing estrogen increases neuronal activity via a number of mechanisms.


In their study, Woolley and Sato found inhibiting estrogen synthesis just after seizure onset strongly suppressed seizures in both sexes, without anti-seizure drugs or other interventions. The effect was seen both in the animal’s behavior and in hippocampal electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings.


The scientists injected male and female animals with either an inert substance or an aromatase inhibitor, either letrozole or fadrozole, just after the start of a chemically induced seizure. (An aromatase inhibitor inhibits estrogen synthesis; letrozole, or Femera®, is used clinically to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women.) They studied the animals for up to six hours and found both fadrozole and letrozole strongly suppressed seizures in both sexes.


The hippocampus is a critically important part of the brain in the initiation and propagation of seizure activity. In another part of their study, Woolley and Sato found the impact of seizures on estrogen production in the hippocampus was surprisingly large in both sexes, showing a two- to three-fold increase during seizures.


Woolley said it is important to distinguish between seizures and epilepsy, which are not synonymous. Epilepsy, which affects about 1 percent of the population, is a condition in which a person has spontaneous recurrent seizures, often lasting only a few minutes. Status epilepticus is a more severe seizure episode, affecting about 40 people per 100,000 per year.


The overall mortality rate of status epilepticus is estimated at 20 percent, and patients who recover have an increased likelihood of subsequent unprovoked seizures, the researchers say. New approaches to acute seizure control are needed.


“Given the unacceptably high mortality rate of status epilepticus in humans, these data from the Northwestern study are likely to elicit great interest by physicians in the field,” said Dr. Stephen M. Smith, director of medical critical care at the VA Portland Health Care System. He was not involved in the study but is familiar with Woolley’s research.


“Hopefully, this new study will trigger clinical trials to determine the efficacy and safety of currently available aromatase inhibitors in patients with status epilepticus,” said Smith, professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [grant NS037324] and the NIH Office for Research on Women’s Health supported the research. The title of the paper is “Acute Inhibition of Neurosteroid Estrogen Synthesis Suppresses Status Epilepticus in an Animal Model.”


Read more in Northwestern News. >>


EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University faculty, postdoctoral fellows and students who contributed to the historic Sept. 14 detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) are being honored for their research.


The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), a group of more than 1,000 scientists and engineers from universities around the U.S. and in 14 other countries that conducts LIGO research, recently received two significant honors: the $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize, recognizing extraordinary scientific achievement, and the 2016 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, recognizing a discovery leading to fundamental advances in understanding the universe.


The following Northwestern community members are co-authors of the gravitational-wave discovery paper and hence are awardees for both prizes:




Postdoctoral fellows:

  • Chris Pankow, CIERA
  • Laura Sampson, CIERA


Graduate students:

  • Joshua Yablon, electrical engineering and computer science, McCormick
  • Mike Zevin, physics and astronomy, Weinberg Minchuan Zhou, physics and astronomy, Weinberg
  • Zifan Zhou, electrical engineering and computer science, McCormick


Undergraduate students:

  • Ben Sandeen, Weinberg class of 2016
  • Scotty Coughlin, Weinberg class of 2014 and currently a pre-doctoral research assistant in CIERA


For the Special Breakthrough Prize, $1 million will be shared between the three LIGO founders, Ronald Drever, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, and the remaining $2 million will be shared equally by the 1,012 contributors. The scientists and engineers will be recognized at the 2017 Breakthrough Prize ceremony in the fall of 2016, where the annual Breakthrough Prizes in fundamental physics (distinct from the special prize), life sciences and mathematics also will be presented.


The 2016 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, awarded by the Gruber Foundation, honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in understanding the universe. The award ceremony will take place July 12 at the 21st International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation, to be held at Columbia University in New York.


LIGO was built between 1994 and 2002 by Caltech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in partnership with the National Science Foundation with the aim of observing the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity. After a major upgrade from 2010 to 2015, it almost immediately observed gravitational waves distorting the structure of spacetime as they passed through the Earth. The discovery inaugurates a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy that will open a window onto some of the most dramatic and violent phenomena in nature as well as the mysteries of the early universe.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>



EVANSTON, Ill. --- Ten autonomous robots will attempt to outmaneuver each other to win at “Robot Wipeout” Saturday, May 14, as they and their student designers compete in the 25th annual Design Competition at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering.


This year, speed and agility are key as robots go head-to-head in an event that is a play on the TV game show “Wipeout.”


Free and open to the public, “Robot Wipeout” will start at noon at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, 2133 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. Hundreds of spectators attend every year to cheer on the competitors. (Evanston campus map.)


During the one-on-one final competition Saturday, each robot will attempt to find a robot driven by its competitor and knock a cup off it, while dodging obstacles and trying not to fall off the side of the arena.


Teams of undergraduates from a variety of engineering fields have spent five months designing, building and programming their robots. Some teams are fielding classic robot designs with lasers and ultrasonic sensors; others are deploying Nerf darts and rubber-band shooters.


The event is expected to last three hours, concluding with an awards ceremony. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams, with first place receiving $1,000.


One team also will be honored with the annual Myke Minbiole Elegant Engineering Award, named for McCormick alumnus Minbiole, who worked as an engineer until being killed in a hit-and-run collision in 2007. The Minbiole family will present the $500 award.


VIDEO: Get a flavor of the fun by following a team and its robot in the 2012 event.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

stupp175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Samuel I. Stupp, the director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology at Northwestern University, has received the Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry -- the largest organization in Europe dedicated to advancing the chemical sciences. The award is given by the Faraday Division of the Royal Society, which provides a forum for physical and biophysical chemistry, molecular and chemical physics, and theoretical chemistry.


The Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry Award honors outstanding and innovative research in soft condensed matter and the application of physico-chemical techniques to biological problems. Stupp is receiving this award for his fundamental contributions to the science of supramolecular soft matter and for demonstrating its value to control biophysical interactions with mammalian cells. He will receive a medal during a symposium this year and will undertake a lecture tour in the U.K.


“I am absolutely flattered and delighted to receive this honour,” Stupp said. “The development of these soft biomaterials is extremely important to future therapies in regenerative medicine and many other disease therapies involving delivery of macromolecular drugs, such as proteins and antibodies.”


Stupp also is the Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering and holds appointments in Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.


Stupp’s research focuses on the design of soft materials that can signal cells and be used in novel therapies for regenerative medicine. His work has led to the development of materials that mimic the natural structures that surround cells in the human body and activate the necessary signals to initiate the growth of tissues and organs.


Using molecularly designed materials, Stupp has demonstrated the possibility of converting neural stem cells into neurons, an important target in finding novel therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. He also has demonstrated the functional efficacy of these materials in treatments for spinal cord injury, as well as their capacity to regenerate tissues, such as bone, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, among others.


The Royal Society of Chemistry was founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of advancing the chemical sciences. Forty-seven previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s awards have gone on to win Nobel prizes for their pioneering work, including Harry Kroto, Fred Sanger and Linus Pauling.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

PECASE2016Rondinelli638.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. --- Northwestern University Assistant Professor James Rondinelli was among the emerging leaders in science and engineering who talked about the impact of their work and the importance of federal funding for research during a recent roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C.


Each of the 11 scientists at the May 5 roundtable were recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) -- the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.


The 2016 PECASE recipients fielded questions from journalists, weighing in on a range of topics, from the burden of time spent in administrative reporting for federal grant funding to the need for more high-risk, high-reward research at the federal level and greater diversity in the scientific workforce.


Rondinelli, assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern, was recognized for his influential research contributions in computational condensed matter physics and novel materials design approaches. His research team is converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.


“My group is looking at materials [that] could lead to low-power, more efficient electronics,” he said.


“This impacts the average consumer in that they want to charge their device less [often]. In terms of the military -- and this is the support from the Department of Defense -- we’re trying to give our soldiers tactical energy independence on the field.”


Hosted by the Science Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, the discussion took place at the National Press Club. Scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Boston University were among the fellow 2016 PECASE winners. (Watch a video of the full roundtable discussion here)


President Barack Obama and the heads of the United States’ science agencies also recognized PECASE recipients for their achievements while they were in D.C.


Rondinelli also talked about administrative reporting challenges early-career faculty face in the lab, saying that reporting requirements consume roughly 30 percent of his research time.


“There must be a way to strike that balance between accountability and allowing investigators to really focus on the science,” he said during the roundtable. “I think that’s something that’s incredibly difficult for junior faculty who are trying to both establish themselves in developing frontier science and receive this federal funding."


Rondinelli also spoke about the growing competition U.S. institutions are facing from other countries in attracting and retaining good faculty, adding that he has been approached by Chinese laboratories to train their students.


“They’re very interested in the electronic materials we’re studying, and their approach is, ‘You can come over for three months, we’ll fund you, we’ll set up a few graduate students for you and then you can go back and carry out your academic year at Northwestern and continue teaching,’” he said.


The event concluded with each participant describing why science should matter to this year’s presidential candidates. (Watch the video here). Rondinelli said, “Science should matter to our presidential candidates because the greatest export for the U.S. is innovation and we train those innovative students."


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

_DSC0152.JPGEVANSTON, Ill.  --- Inequality affects both developed and emerging nations, yet research on the problem seldom crosses academic disciplines, much less national or international borders.


The Northwestern University Global Inequality Workshop seeks to address this gap by bringing together some of the world’s leading social scientists for in-depth, interdisciplinary discussions on key issues and new forms of inequality.


Jointly organized by two of Northwestern’s leading research institutes, the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) and the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies, the May 12-13 workshop in Evanston assembles nearly 30 leading experts on domestic and global policies from both institutes, as well as leading U.S. and international scholars.


The event is made possible in part through the generosity of alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott ’54 who made a gift of more than $100 million to Northwestern in January 2015, marking the largest single gift to the University to date.


Experts were invited to the workshop from a variety of institutions including National University of Singapore, Institut Sciences Po in Paris, Denmark’s Aarhus University, as well as Harvard, Michigan and other U.S. schools.


The small workshop setting is designed to help advance cutting-edge scholarship on inequality in health, education and organizations, in addition to highlighting global trends and research methods.


The event also gives IPR and the Buffett Institute a chance to develop strategic partnerships that will enhance and expand Northwestern’s research community with U.S. and international scientists.


“Our twin goals for this workshop are to stimulate new collaborations between faculty affiliated with the Buffett Institute and IPR and forge new connections between Northwestern experts and those from around the world,” said IPR Director David Figlio, faculty fellow and the Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy.


Since both the Buffett Institute and IPR support collaborative research, the partnership is a natural one, said Buffett Institute Director Bruce Carruthers.


The Buffett Institute has long been interested in a range of global issues, but historically has not concentrated on social policy questions. Meanwhile, IPR has traditionally focused on social issues that directly concern Washington, but not necessarily those relevant to Paris, Canberra or Nairobi.


“Global inequality is a place where the Buffett Institute’s traditional research interests intersect perfectly with those of IPR,” Carruthers said. “The workshop will allow us to join an important and ongoing international conversation that’s undeniably relevant across the globe.”


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

priya175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Priya Harjani, deputy general counsel for Northwestern University, has received the Corporate Counsel Achievement Award from the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA).


The award is given to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary leadership and innovation in the field of law. Recipients exemplify excellence within the South Asian legal community and a demonstrated commitment to diversity.


SABA provides a vital link between South Asian lawyers and the South Asian community across North America by promoting the South Asian bar and focusing on the legal needs of the South Asian community.


Harjani was promoted to deputy general counsel in February having held several positions during her 12 years in the Office of the General Counsel at Northwestern. She has distinguished herself by leading some of the University’s highest-profile legal cases, including numerous labor and employment matters as well as litigation matters. Her role at Northwestern makes her one of the highest-ranking and prominent Indian-Americans in the higher education legal field in the U.S.


Harjani is very involved in the Indian-American community, serving as a board member for the Indian-American Bar Association of Chicago Foundation (IABACF) -- the charitable arm of the bar association. In her role, she recently helped organize a service project to paint the interior of the Indo-American Center, a non-profit organization in Chicago serving Indian immigrants who are new to the U.S. She has also worked with the IABACF to grant scholarships to law students who are committed to South Asian causes and has participated in other fundraising initiatives that allow the foundation to assist other non-profit organizations.


Harjani will be presented with her award along with other SABA award recipients at SABA’s annual conference in Houston, Texas, on May 14, 2016.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

dew638.jpgInsects possess a “sixth sense”: a dedicated sensory system that detects water vapor (humidity) in the air. A Northwestern University and Lund University (Sweden) study of the common fruit fly reveals for the first time the genes and neurons that underlie this ability. What the researchers have learned could help in the design of new strategies to improve mosquito population control.


EVANSTON, Ill. --- Humidity can make us feel miserable -- think of sultry summer days in Chicago, for example -- but humans do not have dedicated sensory systems in the skin to detect water vapor in the air. Most insects, for whom humidity levels can mean life or death, do have such systems, but little has been known about how they work.


Now, a research team from Northwestern University and Lund University in Sweden is the first to discover a sensory system that directly detects air humidity. The scientists have identified key genes involved in the fruit fly’s ability to detect changes in external humidity, and they also discovered the sensory neurons -- the fly’s humidity receptors -- in a strange, small sac in the insect’s antennae.


“That insects are able to detect humidity levels has been known since the beginning of the 20th century, but how they do it has remained enigmatic,” said Marcus C. Stensmyr, associate professor at Lund University and co-corresponding author. “Our study reveals for the first time the genes and neurons that underlie this ability, which is very exciting.”


What the researchers have learned about Drosophila melanogaster -- a major model system for the genetics of behavior -- could help scientists better understand the mosquito and improve mosquito population control by preventing the insects from finding suitable bodies of water in which to lay their eggs.


“Insects are generally very small, and humidity is a very big deal for them,” said Marco Gallio, assistant professor of neurobiology in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a co-corresponding author of the study. “They are careful to not lose moisture, which could cause them to die, and they also use humidity detectors to find water. Our discovery is very important for sensory biology and offers a possible tool for fighting mosquitos and the disease they can carry.”


The findings were published online today (May 5) in the journal Current Biology. The study also will appear as the cover story in the May 23 print edition.


Stensmyr, Gallio and their colleagues identified the neurons in the antenna that respond to humidity by using a variety of genetic methods.


“Human engineers have devised a few different ways to measure air humidity,” Gallio said. “The oldest relies on a human hair under tension. The hair retains moisture, so its length changes with humidity, and that can be easily measured. It turns out the fly may use a very similar strategy to measure humidity: the mechanical deformation of a specialized little organ inside the antenna, called the sacculus, could tell the brain about humidity levels.”


The researchers also directly investigated how the fly brain responds to humid stimuli and found that humidity activates a region of the brain right next to the one activated by temperature. “Yet the fly’s response to humidity and temperature are separate, and this may allow the animal to better adapt its behavior to the changing environment,” Gallio said.


Indeed, the researchers believe that understanding how animals detect and respond to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity also may help scientists better predict what will happen to the distribution and survival of different species under global warming.


The work was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health (grants RO1GM08946, RO1DC01279, RO1DK106636 and R01NS086859).


The paper is titled “Humidity Sensing in Drosophila.”


In addition to Gallio and Stensmyr, other authors of the paper are Anders Enjin (first author) and Suzan Mansourian, of Lund University; Emanuela E. Zaharieva and Dominic D. Frank, of Northwestern; and Greg S. B. Suh, of New York University School of Medicine.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>


The recipients of the 2016 Charles Deering McCormick Teaching Excellence Awards. Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth M. Gerber, Daniel J. O’Keefe, David W. Gatchell, Erik Gernand and Wendy Lee Wall.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Five faculty members will be honored with 2016 University Teaching Awards later this month for outstanding performance and dedication to undergraduate education at Northwestern University.


Elizabeth M. Gerber, Daniel J. O’Keefe and Wendy Lee Wall will each receive a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence award. David W. Gatchell will receive the Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor award, and Erik Gernand will receive the Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished Lecturer award.


The recipients will receive their awards at an installation ceremony at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, 2016 in the Guild Lounge, Scott Hall, on the Evanston campus. All members of the Northwestern community are invited to attend the ceremony and following reception.


The Charles Deering McCormick Professorship, Lectureship and Clinical Professorship Awards have a three-year term and for each year of the award term, the recipients receive $7,000 as a salary supplement and $3,000 for professional development. A one-time $3,000 award also is given to the recipient's home department to support activities that enhance undergraduate education.


The process for selecting these award recipients begins with nominations from the deans of the schools or colleges in which the recipients have principal appointments. The selection committee, chaired by Provost Daniel Linzer and including senior faculty members, University administrators and a student representative, then selects the recipients from a diverse and strong pool of candidates.


Recipients of the 2016 Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Awards:


Elizabeth M. Gerber is an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and communication studies in the School of Communication. She is a campus leader in design education, utilizing project-based learning and interdisciplinary collaborations to impart real-world design and innovation skills to her students.


Gerber is known to adapt and personalize her course based on live feedback from her students. She also places a high priority on mentoring her students. Many of them have contributed to peer-reviewed papers in the design field.


She founded the undergraduate co-curricular initiative, Design for America (DFA), in 2009 to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to partner with community businesses and design products that will have a real societal impact. The program has been highly influential on other design engineering programs, and DFA can now be found at nearly 40 institutions across the United States. One former student said, “Through Prof. Gerber’s teachings, which trickle down to every level of Design for America, I now feel that I have the power to address some of the biggest issues that affect society today.”


Gerber received her Ph.D. in management science and engineering and her M.S. in product design, art and mechanical engineering from Stanford University. She received her B.A. in studio art and engineering from Dartmouth College.


Daniel J. O’Keefe is the Owen L. Coon Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Communication, where he teaches Theories of Persuasion and a communication studies research seminar. An accomplished scholar and researcher in persuasion and argumentation, he has received six national association awards for articles he has authored, in addition to two distinguished research awards.


O’Keefe is also a talented educator whose teaching strategy demonstrates his commitment to deepening students’ thinking about the persuasion process and improving their writing abilities. He teaches large classes that can reach up to 80 enrolled students and also smaller seminars during which he is known for providing detailed constructive criticism of his students’ written assignments.  His teaching methods also include incorporating real world examples to contextualize theoretical understanding of course material, a practice that resonates profoundly with his students.


Compared to their writing before taking O’Keefe’s class, students demonstrate marked improvements in their grasp of persuasion and writing in both theory and practice. One former student recalled, “I learned to care more about critical inquiry than a grade, transforming me from a passive student to an active learner.”


O’Keefe earned his Ph.D., A.M. and A.B. degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Wendy Lee Wall is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, where she specializes in early modern literature and culture. In the classroom, she strives to make literature and language of the early modern period accessible to her students in a way that influences their perspective on the world today.


In her courses, Wall holds high expectations for the work her students produce. As one student says, “One of her greatest strengths in the classroom is the ability to discern how best to challenge her students.” Her students note that, even in classes of up to 70 students, she engages everyone through her genuine interest in their perspective and insights.


She encourages her students to interrogate the contextual history of language down to specific words, instilling in them the understanding that no ideas, past or present, are either self-evident or unchanging.


Wall has been the director of the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities since 2013. One student described her leadership of the institute as that of “a dynamic leader, who never fails to speak enthusiastically and infectiously about each and every topic within the humanities.”


Wall earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and her B.A. from the University of Alabama.


David W. Gatchell is a clinical associate professor in the Segal Design Institute at McCormick. He is driven to help all of his students identify their passions and realize their potential by understanding their intellectual, social and emotional needs.


In teaching, Gatchell offers what one student described as “an impressively personal education to all of his students” and values the ability to look at a problem from multiple perspectives, which he encourages his students to do as well. His students note that through his teaching they become skilled in learning from obstacles and mistakes, which keeps them thinking critically. As one student described, “He has an original way of looking at things as opportunities instead of dead ends that is inspiring as a student when classes or team relationships become difficult.”


Gatchell’s students are also grateful for the time he takes to support their learning outside of classes, teaching them to connect theory to practice.


He is also the director of the Manufacturing and Design Engineering (MaDE) program at McCormick, where he advises students on their class choices, internship opportunities, extra-curricular activities and post-undergraduate aspirations.


Gatchell received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Boston University and his A.B. in physics from Bowdoin College.


Erik Gernand is a senior lecturer in the department of radio, television and film in the School of Communication, where he teaches both writing and production courses such as “Media Construction,” “Playwriting for Filmmakers” and “Producing the Sitcom.” In his teaching, he draws upon his industry experience in managing a video production company for nearly a decade and the multiple award-winning short films he has written and directed.


During his time in the department, Gernand has helped deepen the community for students and faculty by creating and continuing to run the annual 48-hour film festival for first-year students. He has also helped to organize the first-year experience and develop a three-quarter sequence in which student teams produce an original sitcom.


Gernand has been elected three times to the Faculty and Administrator Honor Roll by members of the undergraduate student body.


He has a reputation for creating a space where creativity can blossom. One student claimed, “I believe that work in the arts relies on the artist’s ability to be vulnerable, and I have never felt more comfortable being vulnerable than in Erik’s classroom.” The personalized feedback he provides on all aspects of his students’ work challenges them to think of their projects in new ways.  As another student said, “What separates Erik…is his ability to take any student…and find a way for them to improve themselves.”


Gernand earned his M.F.A. in writing for the screen and stage from Northwestern, and his B.A. in telecommunications and German from Ball State University.


Read about previous winners here.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

hahn175.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University researcher attempting to create ever-elusive dark matter with the world’s most powerful particle collider will receive $750,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).


Kristian Hahn (pictured), assistant professor of physics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is one of 49 young scientists from across the country to receive 2016 Early Career Research Program funding, announced Tuesday by the DOE Office of Science. His work, currently underway at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, aims to elicit vital information about the substance scientists say makes up roughly 85 percent of the physical universe.


The LHC collides beams of protons at an unprecedented energy of 13 TeV, which is equivalent to squeezing the energy of an aircraft carrier traveling at 20 kilometers per second down to the diameter of a human hair.


“The origin of dark matter is one of the most interesting questions in science,” Hahn said Tuesday, one day after returning from a dark matter workshop in Seoul and while preparing to leave for another in London. “The universe is filled with a vast ocean of material we know almost nothing about.”


Hahn intends to create dark matter as a product of the incredibly powerful proton collisions occurring inside the Large Hadron Collider. He and his research team expect to break new ground as a result of recent upgrades made to the particle collider.


“Recent improvements made to the LHC are not unlike those that preceded the historic discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012,” Hahn said. “People had been searching for the Higgs boson for years, but they couldn’t find it because we did not have a powerful enough energy collider.”


When scientists extended the reach of the collider, the Higgs boson particle was soon revealed.


“Similarly, the eventual High-Luminosity LHC, which will increase proton beam intensity by a factor of 10, will extend our reach even further,” said Hahn, who is redesigning data acquisition systems to capture the massive amount of information produced by the collisions.


“It’s an incredible amount of data,” Hahn said. “Beams collide every 25 nanoseconds; the detector, which records information about the resulting spray of particles, generates a petabyte of raw data per second. We need to develop new techniques for reducing this to a manageable rate at the High-Luminosity LHC.”


The Department of Energy Early Career Research Program, now in its seventh year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.


“We invest in promising young researchers early in their careers to support lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system,” said Cherry Murray, director of DOE’s Office of Science. “We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists already have made and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”


Under the program, university-based researchers will receive at least $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. Selection was based on peer review by outside scientific experts.


To be eligible for the DOE award, a researcher must be an untenured, tenure-track assistant or associate professor at a U.S. academic institution or a full-time employee at a DOE national laboratory, who received a Ph.D. within the past 10 years.


Hahn’s research falls within the award category for high energy physics. Additional qualifying research topics include advanced scientific computing research, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, fusion energy sciences and nuclear physics.


Learn more in Northwestern News. >>

Untitled.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern University has created a new Digital Learning website to showcase the University’s best practices in online and blended educational innovation to teachers and students on campus as well as to the outside world.


The primary goal of the new website is to provide a glimpse into what is happening inside the Northwestern classroom and to help connect the dots between various innovations in teaching and learning.


“We really want to highlight how creative and innovative our faculty are,” said University Provost Daniel Linzer, “and now we have a way to show many of the incredible things they are doing with new online technologies and cutting-edge learning tools.”


This site was created through a partnership between the Office of the Provost and Northwestern Information Technology with input and collaboration from many faculty, administrators and offices across the campus. To learn more about the team behind the project, check out the contributors.


“We hope this site inspires faculty to learn more about digital learning and continue thinking creatively about how technology can support their pedagogy,” said Marianna Kepka, assistant provost for academic administration and senior director, Office of Change Management.


The website shows how many instructors at Northwestern are experimenting with new ways to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and virtually through new technologies and tools. Whether it’s developing a full-blown online course or simply becoming more familiar with the Canvas learning management system, many opportunities to try new technologies and to connect with others are available.


One example of the innovative new learning technologies created at the University and shared across campus -- and widely at other institutions -- is the Lightboard, developed by Michael Peshkin of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.


The Lightboard allows an instructor to create video lectures and directly interact with handwritten notes and diagrams while facing the camera and students through a sheet of glass that illuminates what the teacher draws on it.


“I created the Lightboard so that I can get these small video lectures to my students as they need them without a lot of production overhead, but also, with training, allow any faculty member or student to produce their own,” Peshkin said.


An upcoming University event will allow instructors to share cutting-edge digital teaching methods and connect with one another.


TEACHx is a free one-day event for instructors on Monday, May 16, in Norris University Center, and faculty and staff are encouraged to register and attend. They will have an opportunity to learn more about teaching through technology and the growing educational technology community of practice. Presentations will include those experimenting with blended learning, online learning, MOOCs, social media, mobile applications, learning analytics and active learning spaces. The day is designed with short talks and digital poster presentations to highlight instructors’ leading innovations for teaching and learning at Northwestern.


Finally, the website includes a feature on Northwestern’s massive open online courses, or MOOCs, including a variety of free online courses that are offered by the University. Additional courses will be featured as instructors develop new online strategies for delivering their course content to a global audience -- anywhere, anytime.


MOOCs at Northwestern have afforded some faculty both global reach and local impact in their teaching. One professor who has experimented with MOOCs is Todd Murphey, associate professor of engineering at McCormick. His innovative approach to bringing together online MOOC students with his Northwestern students enabled new learning and brought home benefits to Northwestern students in the classroom here as well.


This underscores the value many faculty members have found in exploring new forms of pedagogy that, in turn, benefit Northwestern.


The website is designed to tell the multiple stories about innovative learning and teaching at Northwestern and will continue to evolve as future experiments yield new approaches and ideas.


--Contact the Administrators of the new Digital Learning website

Faculty, staff and students with questions are encouraged to contact the administrators of the new website and provide feedback at Contact Us.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

20613_D0944.JPGCHICAGO --- The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law will partner with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) in the implementation of a program designed to assist system-involved youth in Chicago to achieve successful transitions to adulthood.


As part of a national effort to assist young people who have had juvenile justice system involvement, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a multi-state, multi-million dollar initiative to create the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP). The program is designed “to address the challenges justice-involved individuals face when trying to find work and a place to call home.”


The program will provide eligible CHA youth with information, legal representation and social work support to alleviate the collateral consequences associated with a juvenile criminal record.


“The promise that youthful transgressions will not follow young people for life is simply not true,” said Julie Biehl, clinical associate professor of law at Northwestern and director of the CFJC.


“Even children who are arrested and not convicted have a juvenile record. Those records follow them into adulthood and can seriously undermine their efforts to build lives for themselves by limiting their opportunities for school, housing and jobs,” Biehl said.


JRAP will assist eligible youth with expunging, sealing, and/or correcting juvenile or adult records as permitted by state law; it will also coordinate support services to mitigate collateral consequences. For example, JRAP attorneys will provide counseling regarding legal rights and obligations in searching for employment, reinstating revoked or suspended drivers’ licenses, obtaining readmission to school and creating or modifying child support orders and other family law matters.


The program was announced on April 25 at the beginning of National Reentry Week, a new initiative to bring awareness to issues of fairness in the United States criminal justice system.


“Reconnecting young people who’ve paid their debt to society to decent jobs and housing allows them to turn the page and become active, productive members of their communities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These grants offer a helping hand to those who deserve a second chance so they have a real opportunity to reach their full potential.”


Read more in Northwestern News. >>

_ERR4643.jpgEVANSTON, Ill. --- Five high school teachers who have had transformative effects on the lives of graduating Northwestern University seniors they once taught will each receive a special award during an honors ceremony (June 16) and commencement (June 17) at Northwestern.


The educators are the recipients of the sixth annual Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary Teacher Awards. They honor high school teachers who have touched the lives of Northwestern students and carry an award of $2,500 for each teacher and each of their schools.


The awards are co-sponsored by the University’s Associated Student Government and the Office of the President. Eugene Lowe, assistant to Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and senior lecturer in religious studies, chaired the 2016 selection committee. The committee reviews student nominations and teacher portfolios to select finalists, who are interviewed with the assistance of NUIT Academic and Research Technologies.


“It’s inspiring to hear our graduating seniors remember high school teachers who helped shape them into the Northwestern students they are today,” President Schapiro said. “Honoring these high school teachers is one of my favorite parts of commencement.”


The selection committee considered essays from seniors about their former high school teachers as well as portfolios submitted by the nominated teachers that included an explanation of their teaching philosophy and letters of recommendation. (The nomination period for the Class of 2017 will open this summer, following commencement.)


The 2016 recipients teach in high schools across the country, including public schools in Cicero, Illinois; Lawndale, California; Sudbury, Massachusetts; Westerville, Ohio, and a private school in Cincinnati, Ohio.


“This wonderful award encourages students to nominate educators who lit a spark within them,” Lowe said. “The participation of these extraordinary educators in the commencement ceremony has quickly become a highly valued tradition."


Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary Teacher Award recipients:


Daniel Conti


Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences senior Ryan Kenney said English teacher Daniel Conti tirelessly guides and supports his students until they have the confidence and capability to meet his expectations.


“By prioritizing learning over achievement and by imparting his passion for learning and teaching at every opportunity, Mr. Conti demonstrates his exceptional ability to foster a love of learning among all of his students,” Kenney said.


Conti, who has taught English at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, Massachusetts, since 1994, said early on in his teaching career he learned that teaching wasn’t about him, it was about the students -- after which he said many more lessons have followed.


“First: teaching is an act of faith,” Conti said. “We spend an incalculable amount of time and energy on our students, and, yet, we may never see the fruits of our labors. We trust that our students will be better students, better citizens, better people for having been in our classrooms.”


Conti is “a true servant leader to his students,” Kenney said.


“I had many friends in Mr. Conti’s classes who weren’t exceptionally drawn to English as a subject, but who nonetheless matured as students and gained remarkable confidence in themselves and their abilities by simply being a student in Mr. Conti’s class,” he said.


Eleanor Burke, housemaster at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, has supervised Conti’s teaching for seven years and said he is a teacher who literally opens students’ worldview.


“Every time I watch Dan’s class, I see small miracles,” Burke said. “We all leave the room feeling something is right with the world.”


Linda Ford


Chemistry teacher Linda Ford said the greatest compliment to her teaching is the overheard remark as the bell rings, “What? Class is over already!”


“It tells me that I have orchestrated a communal learning experience that caused time to fly by,” said Ford who teaches chemistry and AP chemistry, as well as an elective environmental science class for juniors and seniors, at The Seven Hills School in Cincinnati.


Ford’s passion for teaching and joy for learning is contagious and evident to her students, said McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science senior Katherine Cirulli, citing how Ford has transformed the way she thinks about and solves problems, both inside and outside of the classroom.


“Her curriculum and teaching style well prepared me for the exams and problem sets I have completed throughout my time at Northwestern,” Cirulli said. “These critical thinking skills have been the backbone of the way I learn and study at Northwestern.”


Ford would demonstrate a new chemistry experiment using music and costumes to enhance teaching about chemical concepts they were learning in class, which was especially helpful to Cirulli, who calls herself a “visual learner.”


Ford said that’s by design.


“I use music, special lighting, costumes, props and poetry to connect all of their senses to chemistry,” she said.


But props aside, her courses are known to be so challenging that students adjust their course loads around them, said Susan S. Marrs, assistant head of school at Seven Hills.

“Linda gives only her best every single day, and that’s what she expects -- and gets -- from her students as well,” Marrs said. “Linda is a teacher kids remember and appreciate all their lives.”

Ben Hartnell

Weinberg senior Emma Feder fondly recalls Ben Hartnell, her history teacher at Westerville North High School running through the hallway screaming, “Freedom!” at the top of his lungs while wielding a fake sword and dressed in William Wallace attire a la “Braveheart.”

“Dr. Hartnell’s uniforms are a staple of his classroom experience,” Feder said. “He frequently teaches in full costume to help bring history to life for his students.”

Hartnell, who has been teaching for 15 years, said students need to “buy in” to what you’re essentially “selling” them.

“Everything I do, create and wear, I do for my students in my never-ending pursuit of making history feel real,” he said. “I literally try to bring history to life on a daily basis!”

Hartnell also is known for his blue book exams.

“Although daunting at first, Dr. Hartnell’s blue book whipped my writing and study skills into shape at a time in my life when I was determining what type of student I wished to become,” Feder said.

“His course shaped me not only as a student but also as a person, and I do not believe that I would have developed the same skills and self-motivation had I not spent that time in his classroom,” she said.

Students should always be the focus of teaching, Hartnell stressed. His hands-on approach to teaching -- using costumes, reenactments or protests -- benefits all types of students regardless of their unique abilities, he said. 

“This produces students that are excited about education and creates a wonderful atmosphere not only in Room #135, but around the high school and community,” Hartnell said.

Barbara Kane

McCormick senior Rene Romo said his high school calculus teacher Barbara Kane managed to get an entire class excited about a subject and to strive for the same goal.

Kane’s ability to motivate her students led to a high of more than 75 percent of AP Calculus students at Morton East High School in Cicero, Illinois, passing the AP exam in 2013, which is 15 percent higher than the national average. That is especially noteworthy considering the school regularly falls below state standards in math.

Romo said what differentiates Kane from other teachers is the amount of work she’s willing to put in to ensure her students have all the resources they need. She provides tutoring and homework help every day before and after school and even comes in on Saturday in order to have students complete AP practice exams.

“Many students come into the classroom disinterested or thinking they have no chance of passing the exam, and before long they are doing everything they can to pass it,” Romo said. “And they enjoy doing it.”

A math teacher at Morton East since 1998, Kane said along the way she has developed techniques to demonstrate multiple ways to solve a problem and to identify the better or easier approaches. She’s also come to realize that the goal of teaching is not entirely about math.

“It’s truly about empowering the person,” Kane said. “Teaching is about getting each individual student to develop their own goals in the classroom that translate into goals in life, while getting the entire class to work together as a unit to achieve them.”

Jose Romo

For most of her life, Weinberg senior Thelma Godslaw grew up within a three-block radius of Lawndale, Hawthorne and Inglewood, California. She was content with the parameters of her immediate neighborhood -- that is until she set foot in Jose Romo’s Spanish class.

“I had never seen the beach, until I ran there with my two feet on our training routes,” recalls Godslaw, referring to her experience with “Students Run L.A.,” an organization that gives at-risk students the opportunity to prepare for running a marathon, which was coached by Romo.

Romo, who teaches Spanish and AP Spanish literature at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, went above and beyond to expose his students to the Latin culture through books, dance, music, art, plays and much more.

In addition to coaching “Students Run L.A., he organized the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration and advised the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan chapter at Leuzinger, showing Godslaw and other students how to stand up to injustice.

Inside Romo’s classroom, Godslaw not only learned to speak, read and write Spanish, she also fell in love with the culture of her Latina and Latino peers.

“This was no small feat,” Godslaw said. “My high school was not well funded, so the measures he took to expose us were personally funded, and his hours extended well into the weekend and weekday nights.”

Romo strongly believes the true test of his teaching is not when students do well on an assessment, but when they go out into the real world and put into practice what is most appropriate.

“Students sharing their life experiences, showing compassion for others, standing up for what they believe, these are the joys of teaching,” Romo said. “An invitation from a former student who is graduating from a university, even if it’s on the East Coast, brings me more joy than all my students passing a state mandated exam.”

Read more in Northwestern News. >>



The illustration shows that infection of target cells can take place throughout the female reproductive tract. And at all sites the primary target of early infection is Th17 cells. The Th17 cells are identified by the markers of CCR5 and CCR6. The infected cells are illustrated by the white burst.


CHICAGO --- Finding the vulnerable points where HIV enters the female reproductive tract is like searching for needles in a haystack. But Northwestern Medicine scientists have solved that challenge by creating a glowing map of the very first cells to be infected with a HIV-like virus.


Through an animal model, the scientists showed for the first time that HIV enters cells throughout the entire female reproductive tract from the labia to the ovary, not just the cervix, as previously thought.


“It’s a technical achievement that provides immediate insights into the earliest transmission events,” said lead investigator Thomas Hope, professor of cell and molecular biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Now we know which areas are vulnerable to HIV and can investigate why does the virus get in here and not everywhere else?”


The HIV transmission study was recently published in Cell Host & Microbe.


“If we are going to stop women from getting infected, we have to stop the very first cells from getting infected,” Hope said. “A week after the initial infection, there are hundreds of thousands of infected cells, and it’s very difficult to stop. If you can stop it earlier, then you have a chance.”


Any strategies to efficiently prevent HIV acquisition in women likely needs to protect the entire female reproductive tract, Hope said.


Hope and colleagues removed the guts from the virus and inserted a gene from lightning bugs and another gene from a fluorescent protein to generate a reporter virus. Then they mixed the reporter virus with the real HIV-like virus. The glowing cells infected by the reporter revealed the site of infection with the real virus. The result: after being transmitted to the host, the real virus appeared in clusters of about 20 to 30 infected cells within 48 hours.


Without the new technology, “scientists would have to take a million little sections to see if they found evidence of the virus,” Hope said.


In the research, scientists used rhesus macaques and a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) that is generally analogous to HIV.


The discovery will help scientists design a more effective vaccine to protect women from HIV.


“For a vaccine to be effective, you don’t just need your arsenal of weapons but they need to be in the right place at the right time,” Hope said. “If you show up a day late or don’t bring enough weapons, it’s too late. Now we can see the chink in the armor of the virus. If you can attack it early instead of late, you can stop it.”


Northwestern scientists discovered the primary target of transmission is the Th17 cell, a minority but important population of T cells in the first line of immune defense. It was previously known that they are depleted early in HIV and SIV infections.


Within 48 hours of infection, scientists can see evidence of the battle between the virus and the Th17 cell.


“We can see infected dead cells, infected cells being eaten by other cells to control them, and cells that kill themselves (apoptosis),” Hope said. “The virus is causing all those things, and it shows the battle between the virus and infected host begins immediately upon infection.”


The article is titled: “Th17 Cells Are Preferentially Infected Very Early after Vaginal Transmission of SIV in Macaques.”


Other Northwestern authors are first author Daniel J. Stieh, Edgar Matias and Angela J. Fought. This study was supported in part by grants R01AI094584, P50GM0825545, 1S10OD010777 and F32HD080540 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health.


Read more in Northwestern News. >>



Joel Mokyr (left) and Robert J. Gordon (right) debated contrasting views of America’s economic future at a Northwestern Political Union event April 27. Mark Witte (center) moderated the debate.


By Rick Popely


EVANSTON, Ill. --- Two distinguished Northwestern University economics professors offered starkly contrasting views of America’s economic future Tuesday (April 27) in a debate billed as a “Clash of the Intellectual Titans.”


Robert J. Gordon, the Stanley G. Harris Professor of the Social Sciences and professor of economics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, systematically supported the thesis of his recent best-selling book, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” by citing economic statistics that indicate the best years for growth in the United States are in the past.


Joel Mokyr, the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history in Weinberg, countered that the best is yet to come because ground-breaking advances in science and technology will surpass previous innovations and generate growth.


The debate, “Resolved: America’s Best Years of Economic Growth Are Behind Us,” at Harris Hall was sponsored by the Northwestern Political Union and drew an audience of more than 200. Though the two had argued the issue well before Gordon’s latest book was published earlier this year, the event was their first public, face-to-face debate on campus.


Mark Witte, professor of instruction and director of undergraduate studies in economics in Weinberg, moderated the debate and helped direct questions from students in the audience after two rounds of remarks by Gordon and Mokyr.


Gordon’s thesis is that economic growth generated by previous technological innovations during the industrial revolution is so much greater than anything that lies ahead, while Mokyr argues that technology will continue to be a significant generator of economic growth far into the future.


Gordon said the growth of real gross domestic product per capita averaged 2.4 percent from 1920 to 1970, grew 2.1 percent from 1970 to 2004 and fell to .7 percent after 2004. He predicted growth of .8 percent over the next 25 years.


“I’m not forecasting some new dark age starting tomorrow. I’m suggesting a continuation of what’s already happening,” he said.


He described the second industrial revolution from 1870 to 1970 as producing monumental changes to the way Americans worked and lived, and most were widely available by 1920. Electricity and indoor plumbing became universal; cars and airplanes replaced the horse and buggy; the telephone, radio, television and movies were invented, and advances in chemistry and medicine, such as antibiotics, marked crucial progress.


In contrast, the third revolution since 1970, which has focused on entertainment, information and communication technology, provided significant productivity gains during the 1980s and the dot-com era of the 1990s but has lost momentum and is no longer game-changing for business, Gordon observed.


“By 2005, this revolution in business practices is almost over, and it’s mainly a consumer revolution rather than a business revolution,” he added. “Everywhere I look, I see things standing still. I see offices using desktop computers and software, much as they did 10 or 15 years ago. In retail stores we’re checking out with bar code scanners, the same way we did before; shelves are still stocked by humans, not by robots; we still have people slicing meat and cheese behind the counter.”


Other signs that indicate America’s economic heyday is over, Gordon said, are that by World War II the average work week had shrunk from 60 hours to 40, but hasn’t changed since, and that “productivity growth in the last six years is as slow as it’s been in U.S. recorded history for that long a period.”


In addition, he added, the U.S. faces significant headwinds in the rising cost of college and soaring student debt; the mass retirement of Baby Boomers that will put a greater financial burden on fewer workers; inequality between rich and poor that is expanding, and growing government debt creating the tough options of either raising taxes or cutting Social Security and Medicare.


“Innovations are continuing, and I am emphatically not saying that technological change is over,” Gordon said, but those headwinds are “darkening the outlook for economic growth in the future.”


Mokyr countered that global competition will spur innovation faster than before, and technological and scientific advancements will be shared faster than ever. Much like the space race of the Cold War years put humans on the moon by 1969, the race to be the leader in science and technology will spur innovation worldwide.


“The world is more pluralistic and competitive than ever. The likelihood that this competition will ever disappear in my view is vanishing. Most nations realize they have to keep up, or else they will fall behind in global competition,” Mokyr said.


“In today’s world, if something is invented, it is invented everywhere, because with globalization, knowledge spreads really fast,” he observed. “In the past, inventions could take decades, even centuries, to spread. Today, things move instantaneously, and that is a big difference.”


Moreover, scientific progress in the past decade has been “as exciting as ever,” and future developments will accelerate and “overcome all headwinds,” Mokyr said. He predicted that as technology improves the tools that scientists use for research, the result will be achievements in laser technology, medical science, genetic engineering and other areas that look out of reach today.


“The tools we have today make anything that we had even in 1950 look like clumsy toys by comparison,” he added.


One area that Mokyr cited as having great potential for innovation was 3-D printing, which he predicted will be a key part of the next industrial revolution.


“Basically you will have one in the home within a couple of decades and actually be able to produce the exact product you want to produce. Manufacturing will go back to the home, and it will be a revival of domestic industry,” he said.


Likewise, advances in healthcare and medicine may also drive growth as even human intelligence is predicted to increase, Mokyr said. He believes that acquiring a deeper understanding of the brain will enable better mental health treatment and new ways to address deterioration with age.


“This is a frontier on which I think the progress will be enormous in the next 50 years. We have done wonderful things for the body; we have not done wonderful things for the brain, Mokyr said.


“In the past, that was always true,” he added. “We solved the easy problems, and the difficult problems were further in the future. Eventually, we will be able to solve many issues that deal with the human brain, and other things that happen at birth. We just have to understand the human brain as well as we understand the human body.


“Are we there? We’ve barely started scratching the surface.”


Read more in Northwestern News. >>