Lila Newman, AB’09 (center), writes and performs for A Prairie Home Companion. (University of Chicago News Office)

Highlights from the latest alumni news columns.

New sounds for Newman

Lila Newman, AB’09, is the 2014 recipient of UChicago’s Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Prize for Emerging Artists, which comes with a $30,000 grant to help fund artistic projects. Newman’s winning proposal was for a performance piece about Ora D. Nichols, a pioneer of radio sound effects. Nichols’s work on the sound effects for Orson Welles’s 1938 radio drama, The War of the Worlds, contributed to the broadcast’s verisimilitude. Although Nichols’s work is well known, she herself is not; Newman, who writes and performs for A Prairie Home Companion, hopes to recover a fascinating, all but forgotten chapter in the history of sound.

Operatic range

Mike Nichols, EX’53, will direct an upcoming film adaptation of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class, about opera legend Maria Callas. Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep will play the lead. A writer, producer, and comedian, as well as a director of film, television, and theater, Nichols is one of only a dozen people ever to earn an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Master Class, which will air on HBO, is set at Juilliard in the early 1970s, where Callas taught a series of master classes in voice.

Fusion home cooking

Jonathan Wu, AB’01, has opened Fung Tu, a Chinese-American restaurant on New York City’s Lower East Side. On the menu are dishes inspired by his mother’s fusion cooking, like China-quiles, a Chinese take on Mexican chilaquiles. Fung Tu (which translates to “Wind Soil”) has been reviewed in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and the New Yorker.

Playwright prodigy

Ironbound, a new play by Martyna Majok, AB’07, debuted at Steppenwolf’s Garage Theatre as part of the theater company’s yearly First Look series. An acerbic comedy set in a New Jersey bus station, Ironbound covers 20 years in the life—and the love life—of 40-something Polish immigrant Darja, giving, a Chicago Tribune review said, “an indelible portrait of how easy it is for working-class women to fall through the cracks.” The play, drawn in part from the experiences of Majok’s mother, made the Kilroys’ list, an annual catalog of exceptional new work from female playwrights, and ran from July 26 to August 24.

Popular history

Chicago Reader named Paul Durica, AM’06, PhD’13, Best Popular Historian on its 2014 Best of Chicago list. Durica’s company, Pocket Guide to Hell, stages historical reenactments of events like the Haymarket riots and gives “guerilla walking tours” including “The Hidden History of the University of Chicago” and “The Mysteries and Wonders of Bridgeport.” Durica is also a lecturer in the College.

Copy that

Donald Stevens, JD’14, has been appointed to the Ringer Copyright Honors Program with the US Copyright Office. Begun in 2013, the program offers paid fellowships to individuals who have demonstrated a strong interest in copyright law. In 2012 Stevens postponed his graduation from the Law School to spend a year in Budapest, Hungary, as a Boren Fellow, studying copyright law, taking language classes, and writing a research paper. As a Ringer Fellow, Stevens will spend two years working for the Office of Policy and International Affairs, which is part of the US Department of Commerce and helps advise the federal government on domestic and international copyright issues.

A life of science

Roy Curtiss III, PhD’62, received the 2014 ASM Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Microbiology. A life sciences professor at Arizona State University, Curtiss directs the Centers for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology and Microbial Genetic Engineering in ASU’s Biodesign Institute. His research focuses on molecular biology and genetics, specifically of Salmonella bacteria and vaccines. His previous awards include the Sydney Rubbo Orator medal from the Australian Society for Microbiology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.